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Badger cull to proceed next year say Defra
1:12pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in News
The National Farmers Union (NFU) have written to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to request that the pilot badger culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire go ahead in 2013.
The request follows new survey results which revealed higher than anticipated badger numbers in the two pilot areas.
Following a thorough assessment of their current capability, the NFU this morning informed Defra that in light of these new figures they could not be confident of removing the required minimum 70 per cent of the badgers in the two pilot areas this autumn.
Defra has agreed to postpone the pilot culls until summer 2013 to allow farmers to continue their preparations and have the best possible chance of carrying out the cull effectively.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: "Despite a greatly increased effort over the last few days and weeks, the farmers delivering this policy have concluded that they cannot be confident that it will be possible to remove enough badgers based on these higher numbers and considering the lateness of the season. It would be wrong to go ahead if those on the ground cannot be confident of removing at least 70% of the populations. Today I have received a letter from the President of the NFU, on behalf of the companies coordinating the culls, explaining why they do not feel they can go ahead this year and requesting that they be postponed until next summer. In these circumstances, it is the right thing to do and, as the people who have to deliver this policy on the ground and work within the science, I respect their decision.
"The Government is determined to tackle bovine TB by all the means available to us. Now, in the next few months, we will ensure that the pilot culls can be implemented effectively, in the best possible conditions, with the right resources. Having looked at all the evidence over many years, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right thing to do, and indeed the higher than expected badger numbers only serve to underline the need for urgent action. I remain fully committed to working with the farming industry to ensure that the pilot culls can be delivered effectively, safely and humanely next summer."
The recent survey results revealed that the estimated badger populations of 4,300 in West Somerset and 3,600 in West Gloucestershire were far higher than previous data suggested. The criteria for the two pilots included the need to successfully remove a minimum of 70 per cent of the local population, which the scientific evidence has shown is required in order to have a positive effect in reducing TB.
The Government and NFU will now continue to plan so that the pilots can go ahead in Summer 2013.