Badger cull 'way behind target' in pilot area

Dairy farmer claims that fewer than 100 badgers have been killed in West Somerset in first 10 days of cull - when 500 should already have been destroyed

Environment Editor

A A A

The highly-controversial badger cull is in danger of failing after it emerged that a pilot scheme in West Somerset is killing less than a fifth of the animals it needs to.

Fewer than 100 badgers were culled in the first ten days of the six-week cull in Somerset, which began on 26 August and will run to 6 October, it has emerged.

The toll is well below the minimum target of 2,081 badgers that need to be killed during the course of the trial. It represents less than 20 per cent of the 500 badgers that needed to have been culled in the first ten days to put the operation on track to hit its target.

 “I understand the West Somerset badger cull may be failing to meet its own target, despite [Secretary of State] Owen Paterson’s assurances that the operation is proceeding according to plan,” Derek Mead, an entrepreneur dairy farmer from Weston-super-Mare, told The Western Morning News in Somerset.

“The information I have been given suggests that as at the middle of last week, the number of badgers accounted for was still well below 100,” he added.

Reports suggest that the number of badgers culled could be considerably below 100, with some sources saying only three or four badgers are being shot a day – compared to an average of 50 a day if the trial is to reach its target.

Analysts said that, even if the slow start was partly down to teething problems that are later ironed out, the early data suggests the marksmen will struggle to hit their target.

The target represents 70 per cent of the badgers in the culling zone, a level the government says will effectively reduce the level of bovine tuberculosis without wiping out the local population altogether.

A spokesman for the National Farmers Union declined to comment on the number of badgers that have been culled in Somerset, saying it was too early to draw any firm conclusions either way.

“It is a pilot cull therefore we can’t fully assess the effectiveness until it is completed. It still has some way to go. I would say making such comments could be somewhat premature. We shall have to wait and see,” he said.

Somerset is one of two counties participating in the trial cull, alongside Gloucestershire.

Defra and the National Farmers Union declined to say what would happen if the cull failed to meet its target within the allotted six week period.

However, the low death-count will put a question mark over whether the cull will be extended – as planned - because the trial was set up to determine where the scheme could be conducted safely, humanely and effectively.

The uncertainty about the effectiveness of the cull will add to the controversy surrounding the programme.

Advocates of the programme say the cull will help reduce the amount of bovine TB in badgers which, most scientists agree, help to spread the disease among cattle – at a cost of more than £100m a year to the taxpayer.

However, the many opponents of the programme say that the cull will actually make the problem worse, as fleeing badgers carry the disease to new areas and new badgers colonise the vacated zones.

A source close to Defra said they did not recognise the figures relating to the number of badgers killed in the cull.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee