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Licence is issued to farmers for badger cull

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

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A pilot cull of badgers is likely to take place soon, following the issuing of a licence to a farmers' group in West Somerset.

The controversial cull, part of the Government's programme to eliminate the spread of bovine tuberculosis, is likely to begin within a matter of weeks.

It will take place over a six-week period, which will have to be completed before the New Year, when the badger breeding season begins.

Last month a licence was issued for the other pilot cull in the test scheme, around Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, another TB hotspot.

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The culls have sparked massive opposition from animal rights activists, who are threatening to disrupt them, and from welfare organisations including the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports. The names and details of people organising the culls have been published on animal rights websites, sparking security concerns among farmers.

And a high-profile petition against the culls has attracted over 100,000 signatures.

The Government agency Natural England issued the licence for the cull, which will be carried out by marksmen over 70% of the 250 square kilometre pilot area, west of Taunton and stretching north to Exmoor. It said it was satisfied the application met the "strict criteria" set out in the Government's TB policy guidance.

The licence has a four-year term and authorises control operations to be conducted within the West Somerset pilot area over a continuous six-week period each year over the next four years. But no control operations may be carried out during specified close seasons.

But the shooting can only start once Natural England has formally confirmed the specific dates when operations will take place, the people authorised to carry them out, confirmation that the necessary funds are in place, and the permitted number of badgers that will be subject to control operations. These formal confirmations are expected to be completed within the next few weeks.

The National Farmers' Union has urged its members to stand up to "intimidation and harassment" from animal rights extremists.

Last year bovine TB caused the deaths of 34,000 cattle, causing chaos in beef and dairy herds.

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  • E_Badger  |  October 05 2012, 1:43PM

    Just to put the figure of 34,000 into perspective; 197,000 (source: DEFRA) cattle were slaughtered for consumption in August 2012 alond (that's over 2 million for 2011). If you then add in the 1.8 million dairy herd to the number of head slaughtered for the supermarkets, the comparitive infection rate becomes 0.8% It is for this 0.8% infected with bTB, for which the farmer receives government compensation, that 70% of badgers are to be killed. Hardly a level playing field is it. More recently an EC commission sent to investigate where the European funding to combat bTB was going, produced a report, snippets of which were revealed in yesterday's Guardian Newspaper and included all the previously "rumoured" (and dismissed by the likes of the NFU and DEFRA) bad and poor animal husbandry practices that have been known about for decades. Today I read that Jim Paice is being patted on the back for being lacky to the NFU and instigating the badger cull - don't worry Jimbo, you might be ex-DEFRA now, but those that care about wildlife won't forget to give you suitable epitaph.

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