Badger cull will not be extended as planned


The government has announced badger culls will continue in pilot areas but will not be expanded to other parts of the country.

An independent report on the culls found they could be conducted safely and the majority of badgers were killed humanely but the pilots did not kill as many badgers as hoped, the environment secretary told the Commons.

The second year of the two pilots, in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, will go ahead with changes made in light of the report to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling, he said in a statement on 3 April 2014.

However, changes to the pilots will be assessed before a decision is taken on whether to extend the programme to other areas - whereas previously, this had been scheduled to take place later this year.

The strategy as a whole was attacked by Labour, with shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle accusing the government of declaring "open season" on badgers.

"There is no strategy here, this is an unscientific fudge for you to try and save face. How can you possibly justify continuing a method of killing, free shooting, which has been found to be inhumane by the independent scientific advisors?" she demanded.

She said the department had "ignored scientific evidence" and reached "a decision based on its own prejudice".

But Environment Secretary Owen Paterson appealed for her support: "All I'm asking is you work with us and follow the example of other nations with a severe reservoir (of disease)."

"These were pilots set up last year, we made it clear we would learn lessons... we will adopt those. We are being responsible by continuing the two existing cull areas," he insisted.

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