Badger Cull Extension Met With Mixed Feelings28 October 2013
UK – Extending the badger culls in the south west has received both strong criticism and support from stakeholder groups and lobbying organisations.
Natural England, the agri-environmental body of the Department for the Environment Farming and Rural Affairs, has granted extensions to kill a minimum of 705 badgers, in a bid to reduce bovine tuberculosis in trial cull areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
This figure is in addition to more than 1500 badgers disposed of by the initial round of culls to hit the region.
The Somerset extension, announced on 14 October, runs for three weeks, whereas the Gloucestershire extension, announced three days later, ends on 18 December.
Defra has noted the extensions supplement the four year licence granted in October last year.
The announcement has caused exasperation and disbelief among anti-cull groups but many organisations from within agriculture have backed the extension.
The Country Land Owners Association described the extensions as “A step towards eradicating bovine tuberculosis in England.”
The other argument was presented by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which is ‘aghast’ that more culling is scheduled.
The RSPCA underscored the 30 per cent cull rate of the initial Gloucester trial cull, as signs of failure as a 70 per cent target was initially advised by experts.
In a statement the RSPCA said: “Only 30 per cent of badgers were killed in this area in the previous six weeks, rather than the 70 per cent which scientists said is needed to make sure bovine TB in cattle is not spread further.”
The situation is ‘exasperating’, according to RSPCA, Head of External Affairs, David Bowles, who said: “The cull in Gloucestershire has clearly failed and yet the government seems intent on making things worse and worse.
He added: “Hundreds of badgers are being killed in an attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, and yet the best scientific opinion says the way they are doing is likely to be spreading the devastating disease instead.”
But while groups have maintained has been a mistake, CLA President Harry Cotterell has stayed firmly behind the cull.
Contrastingly, he believes the extension is borne out of expert scientific advice and has been both ‘humane and effective’.
He said: "Natural England's decision to extend the badger cull, based on expert scientific advice, is necessary if we are to eradicate bTB.
"The cull has proved to be humane and effective so far, and not only will the extension help reduce the spread of bTB in cattle; it is needed to limit the risk of increasing bTB through the dispersal of badgers."