Monday, September 8, 2014

Second year of badger culling begins

A second year of badger culling has begun in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset in a bid to tackle bovine TB.

Last year, 1,800 badgers were killed in the pilot areas of west Gloucestershire and west Somerset. Just under 1,000 are due to be killed this year.

The government insists that culling is necessary but protesters argue shooting is not 'effective or humane'.

More than 26,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of the spread of TB.

The four-year government-backed pilot aims to cull 70% of the initial population of badgers to test how effective, humane and safe a cull can be.

No monitoring

Ministers and the National Farmers' Union believe culling badgers will curb TB in cattle.

But protesters are unhappy that independent monitoring has been dropped and attempted to have the cull halted at the High Court.

The move was rejected by judges, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) saying monitoring was only intended to run in the first year of the pilot.

Protesters, who have called for alternatives such as vaccination to be considered, said Defra has 'sacked the referee'.

Defra said it had 'made changes to monitor effectiveness and humaneness' and added that the culls will be independently audited.