Defra says the pilot badger culls this autumn have prepared the ground for a four-year cull, despite the number of animals shot falling far short of Natural England’s figures-perhaps unsurprisingly, due to the combination of the unpredictability of a wild animal and reported incidents of interference by protesters.

Defra, which is running a consultation on restricting cattle movement, says the culls were designed to show that controlled shooting is ‘safe, humane and effective’. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has praised the farmers involved, ‘often in difficult weather and in the face of intimidation by a small minority who resorted to widespread criminality’.

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By August this year, 22,512 cattle had been slaughtered because of bovine TB. ‘The countries that have successfully reduced bovine TB have tackled it in both cattle and wildlife,’ says Mr Paterson. ‘We are committed to doing this, too, but it will require considerable national resolve.’ The RSPCA’s anti-
cull advertisement using the word ‘exterminate’ has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

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