Pilot badger cull declared a ‘success’... but ministers halve targets for the number of animals to be killed

 

A A A

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, will declare that the pilot badger cull has been a success, but admit that ministers have nearly halved targets for the number of animals to be killed.

Farmers were licensed to shoot a total of 4,940 badgers in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire in moves the Government argues are essential to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

That figure is being reduced to 2,670 after the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) slashed estimates of the number of badgers in the two areas targeted for a cull.

It believes the badger population could have slumped because of last year's harsh winter and a lack of food for the animals.

The programme has proved highly controversial with demonstrations by animal rights activists and warnings that it could prove counterproductive by dispersing infected animals across the country.

Mr Paterson will tell MPs today that ministers regard the Somerset cull, which has just ended, as a success with 850 badgers killed over 40 days. This is still short of a revised target for the county of 1,020.

The Environment Secretary will announce that the culling company is applying to Natural England, which is overseeing the programme, for a short extension of the cull in Somerset in an effort to enable it to hit its new target.

A Defra source said the Somerset cull was making “very good progress... but an extension could make more progress towards that target”.

The source said the pilot “appears to have been successful” with no concerns over the safety or humaneness of the programme.

“The chief vet has advised this outcome should deliver clear disease benefits as part of a four-year cull,” he added.

The target for the number of badgers to be shot in Gloucestershire, where the cull ends next week, is being cut from 2,860 to 1,650.

The source denied that the targets had been reduced to help portray the cull as a success. He said the original calculation of the badger population that the culling company was operating against was “almost certainly the right estimate” in 2012. He said: “As soon as we got new data we updated that.”

The source disclosed that 240 culled badgers had been examined to check whether they had been humanely killed, with concerns raised over the shooting of one animal.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Sales Executive - Central London /Home working - £20K-£40K

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Executive - Ce...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor