PCC Martin Surl welcomes decision to halt badger cull early
Shooting was halted in west Gloucestershire on Saturday, November 30 – three weeks before schedule – after it became clear even a reduced target would not be met
GLOUCESTERSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl has welcomed the decision to stop the badger cull early.
Shooting was halted in west Gloucestershire on Saturday, November 30 – three weeks before schedule – after it became clear even a reduced target would not be met.
“The decision is the right one for our communities,” he said.
“Towards the end of the initial pilot cull period I said it should not continue if it was clear that it was not going to achieve what Defra and the cull company said they needed to achieve.”
The original six-week pilot scheme was extended by eight weeks after marksmen only killed around 30 per cent of the badger population – well short of a 70 per cent target.
Natural England said it had pulled the plug because the cull was set to miss a revised level of 58 per cent.
The controversial cull, which also took place in west Somerset, has been a highly sensitive issue that has divided opinion country-wide.
Designed to reduce the spread of Bovine TB, it has been strongly opposed by animal rights groups.
Campaigners from Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) who walked public footpaths looking for injured animals during the nightly wounded badger patrols, were relieved to hear the news, announced on Friday, November 29.
Jeanne Berry, spokesman for GABS, said: “The cull operators will have had a daily count of badgers shot and will have known a long time ago that they were falling below target.
“We question why it has taken so long for them to reveal this.
“By pursuing this ineffective method they have continued to ramp up police costs and break down communities.
“Now is the time to be honest about the costs and impact of this trial and seriously look at the more positive option of vaccination.”
Natural England said the licence for the cull had been ended “based on the decreasing number of badgers seen by contractors over recent weeks making achieving a further significant reduction in the coming weeks unlikely”.
“Following discussions with the NFU, the cull company and Natural England, the licence for the extension of this year’s pilot cull will stop with effect from noon on Saturday,” it said in a short statement.
An eight-week extension to the original six-week trial was due to end on December 18.
The extension was granted after Defra announced that 708 badgers were killed during the trial in Gloucestershire.
The aim was to kill around 1,600 badgers.
An extension to the trial in Somerset also failed to meet its target.
The shortfalls come despite the estimates of the pre-cull badger numbers being twice revised significantly downwards.
However, Farming Minister George Eustice issued a staunch defence of the cull, insisting it had been ‘worth while’, and praised marksmen who ‘worked so hard... in the face of provocation’.
“Let’s not forget that more than 305,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Great Britain in the past decade due to this terrible disease, which is why we are doing everything we can to get it under control,” he said.
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