The Badger Trust has renewed its call for a stop to the impending badger cull in south-west England following reported evidence of 30% drop in bovine TB levels in 12 months, mainly as a result of increased testing.

The Badger Trust has renewed its call for a stop to the impending badger cull in south-west England.

Trust claims a 30% drop in bovine TB levels over 12 months shows increased testing works and a badger cull would be Two trial culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are expected to begin imminently, with as many as 100,000 badgers likely to be killed during the next few years.

Opposition to the plans has been fierce, and with DEFRA figures showing a fall in bovine TB (bTB) in cattle, trust chairman David Williams believes the cull is a waste of time.

According to the trust, figures quoted in DEFRA’s monthly bovine TB briefing, combined with “previous figures”, equate to a 30% drop in bovine TB levels in 12 months – mainly as a result of increased testing.

He said: “DEFRA’s conclusion that the improved results are down to better testing are very telling.

Badger Trust chairman David Williams.“Publicly, it attempts to justify an unprecedented slaughter of a protected animal. At the same time, tucked away in a dull routine report, it admits that, way back in 2007, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) got it right when it said, after 10 years of research, that the way to bring the spread of bTB under control was not by killing badgers, but by toughening up cattle control measures.

“The ISG highlighted the frailties of the existing testing system, urged much tighter controls over the movement of cattle from bTB hotspots and said improved bio-security on farms would help control the disease. Culling badgers would make no meaningful contribution.”

Meanwhile, nine leading vets have written an open letter to DEFRA and Natural England warning that the shooting permitted by the cull licences “will inevitably result in the targeting of many pregnant sows and, if culling extends towards the end of the open season, could result in the shooting of lactating sows, leading to the starvation of dependent cubs”.

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