Natural England has authorised a license for a further three weeks of badger culling in West Somerset this autumn.

 

The original control period ended last Monday without its target – of eradicating 70% of badgers – being met.

The six-week project was the first of four that will take place annually in the 250km2 area over the next few years in an effort to control the spread of TB from the stripy omnivores to cattle. 

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has reported that 850 badgers were killed in the time frame, which is being equated to 60% of the area’s population.

In a statement to ministers earlier this month he wrote that the shortfall did not mean the plan was a failure, however he advised that extending the cull would increase the possibility of successful disease-control.

“The Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) has advised that the 60 per cent reduction this year will deliver clear disease benefits as part of a four-year cull,” wrote Mr Paterson.

“However, Natural England are considering an application from Somerset for a short extension of the culling period, as provided for under the agreement with the Company.

“The advice of the CVO is that further increasing the number of badgers culled would improve those benefits even further and enable them to accrue earlier.”

It’s hoped that between 165 and 282 animals will be killed in the additional elimination time in order to deliver disease control without causing risk of extinction in the region.

Natural England has also received an application to extend the West Gloucestershire cull.

Badger cull is ‘proceeding to plan’

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