Gloucestershire badger cull extended

Natural England has extended the Gloucestershire badger cull by eight weeks yesterday, following an application from the cull company.

The application was approved following news last week that only 30% of the badger population was killed during the six weeks of the original licence period.

Following the shortfall, Natural England said, licensees were required to present additional proposals to it, detailing how the target could be met. “The government’s bovine tuberculosis (bTB) policy seeks to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle through intensive culling over a four-year period to remove at least 70% of the badger population in defined areas,” it said.

After considering government advice and regarding guidance from the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) policy and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affair’s (Defra) chief veterinary officer and chief scientific advisor, Natural England concluded, “that extending the cull would help to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle; failure to extend would raise the risk of increasing bTB through perturbation.

Now a minimum of 540 and a maximum of 940 badgers can be culled in a bid to “deliver disease control benefits”, it said.

The new licence will run from 23 October until 18 December, but Natural England pointed out that the cage-trapping season will close before the extension ends and, as a result, “only controlled shooting will be permitted from 1-18 December”.