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Gloucestershire badger cull called off

The Ecologist

29th November 2013

Wildlife groups are celebrating following the announcement that the Gloucestershire badger cull is being abandoned early, after it failed to meet any of its targets.

Because of the decreasing number of badgers seen by contractors, achieving further significant reductions in badger numbers appears unlikely.

The wildlife watchdog Natural England has called off the Gloucestershire badger cull three weeks early. A spokesman said:

"We agreed with the National Farmers Union that because of the decreasing number of badgers seen by contractors, achieving further significant reductions in badger numbers appears unlikely. The end of the cage-trapping season tomorrow was agreed by the cull company and Natural England as a sensible point to stop activity."

The shooting of badgers is to come to a halt tomorrow, on 30 November, at midday. On 23 October an extension was granted to the original licence for the Gloucestershire cull which was due to expire on 18 December.

Wildlife groups are saying that Natural England has reached the correct decision following the failure of the cull to meet any of its targets - but that the extension should never have been granted in the first place as it went against scientific advice. Scientists feared that the extension would increase the risk of spreading TB in the area through perturbation - badgers escaping and spreading disease.

They also question the very high cost of the cull, at over £2,500 per badger kill, and the humane-ness of the cull with badgers being trapped above ground in sub-zero temperatures before being shot.

Also nowhere near the intended numbers of badgers were killed throughout the cull period, making the operation not only cruel and expensive, but also ineffective and of little if any scientific value.

Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild, said: "We must take a moment to celebrate the utter failure of a badly planned, poorly executed, inhumane cull. There would be some joy in saying ‘we told you so’ to the government, but hundreds of badgers have already been killed for absolutely no discernible reason.

"The sad thing though is that this government will now try and justify rolling out the cull to other parts of the country next year. They will say that lessons have been learned, they will say that there is no other way to beat TB.

"But if they had cared to pay attention, they’d know that we’d already learned lessons about culling - that it doesn’t work. And we know that there is another way - a revised and improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger vaccination."

A mass protest against the cull planned to take place in Bristol tomorrow would now "turn into a celebration", he added.

 


The March Against the Badger Cull takes place on Saturday 30th November, Bristol. Starting at 12pm on College Green. Bill Oddie, Dominic Dyer (Care for the Wild) and local anti-cull MP Kerry McCarthy will be speaking.

 

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