A total of 274 badgers, or 45%, were removed in the bovine TB (bTB) hotspot against a target of between 615 and 1,091.

Somerset exceeded its minimum target with 341 badgers removed against the recommended range of 316 and 785.

Defra secretary Elizabeth Truss unveiled a biosecurity action plan which aims to help farmers reduce the risk of disease.

Mrs Truss said: “During the last parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.

“The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.”

There are also plans to launch a consultation on a package of tougher cattle measures in 2015, including statutory post-movement testing for cattle entering the low risk area.

Welcoming the announcement, NFU President Meurig Raymond added the model of culling needed to be looked at to make it more difficult for operations to be disrupted by illegal activity by protesters.  

Mr Raymond said: “We welcome the fact that the Chief Veterinary Officer has said that this year’s results in Somerset show culling can be carried out safely, humanely and effectively.  

“We’ve been told by farmers in the Somerset cull zone that there has been a huge reduction in the number of herds under TB restriction since culling started in 2013, from 34 per cent to 11 per cent.

“We will wait for the scientific evidence to come in future years but, until that happens, for farmers in the area this is evidence that culling badgers is working and is helping them tackle this disease. There have also been reports of herds in the Gloucestershire cull area that had been down with bTB long-term that have gone clear since culling started.  

“There are many other areas where bTB is rife and is having a massive impact on farming family businesses which would benefit from the roll out of culling badgers. Following the Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice that badger culling can work, we need the policy to be implemented in others areas next year.  

“The results from Gloucestershire highlight the need for the current model to be looked at to make it more difficult to stop operations being sabotaged.

“We welcome the government’s acknowledgement that this was an issue and its recognition of the need to find a model that isn’t as vulnerable to this kind of disruption.”

Anti-cull campaigners expressed their deep disappointment.

Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International/UK said: “We are extremely disappointed that once again the Chief Veterinary Officer has chosen to endorse what is widely considered within the scientific community to be a cruel and costly failure of a badger cull.

“DEFRA has not placed sufficient data in the public domain to allow independent assessment of the suffering of badgers, but the headlines are clear: many badgers will have taken up to five minutes to die, and many will have been mortally wounded and slowly bled to death underground. If DEFRA decides to carry on with the cull for a third year it will again be firmly placing politics above science and ethics.”

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of