Badger cull to restart in Somerset

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 August 2014

Badger.

Badger.

Archant

DESPITE being labelled an 'epic failure' by industry experts, this year's badger cull has been given the go-ahead to start in Somerset this week.

On Tuesday, National England authorised the killings, so cage-trapping and shooting can take place between now and November 31, while shooting badgers at night can take place between now and January 31 next year.

Shooters in Somerset and Gloucestershire will once again be allowed to trap badgers for up to 16 hours before killing them.

Gunmen will also be able to target badgers running around at night, despite the Government’s independent expert panel concluding that free shooting was both ineffective and inhumane.

But protest groups still hope to stop the cull and encourage vaccination instead.

Mark Jones, veterinarian and executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “We know indiscriminate culling of badgers won’t be effective.

“Last year’s cull was a waste of time, money and badgers’ lives.

“Unlike the cull, science tells us that vaccinating even a modest proportion of badgers undoubtedly reduces the potential for TB to spread within badger populations and therefore back to cattle.”

Last autumn more than 1,800 badgers were slaughtered, with almost a quarter of these taking more than five minutes to die.

The chairman of Natural England’s Scientific advisory committee David McDonald described the culls as an ‘epic failure’.

He said: “Even after extensions, [the figures] approximate the situation known to deliver the worst possible outcome. Following this epic failure, it is hard to see how continuing this approach could be justified.”

Culling contractors will now be permitted to target and kill between 931 and 1,876 badgers.

Mr Jones said: “It beggars belief that despite last year’s cull being exposed as an abject failure, this scandalous killing of a supposedly protected wild mammal is going to be allowed to take place.”

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