Pilot badger cull declared a ‘success’... but ministers halve targets for the number of animals to be killed
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.
Twitch and shout: Birdwatchers are raving over rare birds in Britain
Investigation launched after manatee drowns at Paris zoo
Melting glaciers are caused by man-made global warming, study shows
The butterfly effect: climate change ‘forced species to adapt’
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 4 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...
£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...
£15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...
£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...