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.
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Cut VAT on recycled products to boost sales, Government told
Vital invertebrates decline by 45 per cent, study finds
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
Wisborough Green becomes the first village in Britain to fight off fracking
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...