Badger cull extension challenged by charity
A CULL of badgers in Gloucestershire could be extended after the pilot project removed less than half the number of animals expected.
Defra announced last week that 708 badgers out of a planned 1,600 were shot in Gloucestershire, which works out at around 30 per cent of the estimated badger population, rather than the 70 per cent target.
Natural England is now considering an application to extend the licence by eight weeks.
However, it could be halted after a legal challenge from the Badger Trust, which says plans to extend the culling period are illegal.
The controversial pilot culls were launched in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset in an effort to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
However, animal welfare campaigners are urging the government to start vaccinating badgers instead.
Jeanne Berry, of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, said: “This announcement confirms that the Gloucestershire cull has been ill thought through.
“The government did not do the maths.
“Extending the cull will increase the spread of bovine TB and increase further police costs.
“We urge the government to change course and take up badger vaccination instead.”
The pilot cull in Somerset has been extended for a further three weeks after numbers fell short.
Announcing the figures, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the House of Commons that early indications showed that the culls were carried out in a ‘safe and humane’ way but that the cull period may need to be longer in future ‘to enable teams to adapt their approaches to suit local circumstances’.
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