Badger cull pilot due to start in England

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“Thirty of this country’s leading scientists have given their opinion on this cull and they oppose it.

Sad indeed and pointless in my view, the cull goes ahead. BBC website reports 

Up to 5,094 badgers can be culled in the two pilot cull zones in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire

Culling of badgers as part of plans to tackle TB in cattle is set to get under way in the face of opposition.

Groups of farmers have been given licences to conduct culls under conditions which include having trained marksmen to shoot free-running badgers.

The cull can take place over any continuous six-week period until 1 February next year.

Opponents have said the cull will not make a “meaningful difference” in reducing TB levels in cattle.

‘Terrible price’

Gavin Grant, from the RSPCA, said: “Thirty of this country’s leading scientists have given their opinion on this cull and they oppose it.

“They oppose it because it doesn’t make a meaningful difference to bovine TB in cattle. You may get a minor improvement but at a terrible price of the slaughter of thousands of badgers.”

The government said the cull was necessary as part of efforts to stop spiralling numbers of outbreaks of TB in dairy and beef herds, which saw 28,000 cattle slaughtered in England last year.

Without action, infection and costs would continue to soar, officials said.

In west Gloucestershire the aim is to shoot up to 2,932 badgers in the first year of the cull.

In west Somerset, the target is 2,162 badgers, bringing the total number to 5,094 in this period.

This will equate to about 70 badgers being killed every night in west Gloucestershire and about 50 a night in west Somerset.

Farming minister David Heath said: “What we’re trying to see in these pilot culls is whether it can be done humanely, safely and efficiently.”

The farming minister has added that these culls were part of a wider strategy to improve bio-security and that vaccines – suggested by opponents of the cull – were not ready yet and could not be used effectively.

He added other countries such as Ireland and New Zealand had adopted “similar policies” successfully to deal with the issue.

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