Landowners and farmers from two “carefully-selected areas” are now able to apply for licences to pilot measures designed to tackle the devastating impact of bovine TB, agriculture minister Jim Paice has confirmed.

Landowners and farmers from two “carefully-selected areas” are now able to apply for licences to pilot measures designed to tackle the devastating impact of bovine TB, agriculture minister Jim Paice has confirmed.

Badger. Image ©istockphoto.com/frederTwo areas in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset have been selected, from a shortlist proposed by the farming industry, as the most suitable to pilot controlled shooting of badgers.

The pilots are expected to take place over a period of six weeks in early Autumn 2012. They form part of a science-led and closely monitored policy to bring bovine TB under control in the UK.

Mr Paice said: “These two pilots are just part of a wide range of activity on bovine TB. We already have robust measures to control its spread amongst cattle, which we plan to strengthen further, and are continuing to work hard on the development of practical and usable vaccines.”

Farmers and landowners in these areas can apply to Natural England as a group for a licence to take part. Applications will be assessed against strict criteria before a decision is taken on whether to issue a licence.

Farmers and landowners in these areas can apply to Natural England for a licence to take part.An independent panel of experts will oversee the pilot schemes and advise on the monitoring of the safety, humaneness and effectiveness of controlled shooting. The group will then report back to Government.

Chair of the independent panel has been confirmed as Christopher Wathes, professor of animal welfare at the Royal Veterinary College and the current chair of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC). He will have the important role of overseeing the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot areas.  Other panel members will be appointed shortly.

Prof Wathes said: “Badger culling is a very sensitive issue which is why this group will be completely independent in the work they conduct. I will be joined by a selection of experts from a range of disciplines and our job will be to carefully consider the design and conduct of the pilots to enable a thorough examination of the humaneness, safety and effectiveness of the culling method being used.”

 

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