Natural England has confirmed it has granted a licence to enable badger culling to be continued in the west Gloucestershire pilot area for eight weeks.
Natural England received an application to extend the cull in west Gloucestershire following confirmation that, during the six-week period covered by the original licence, the licensee had been able to cull 30% of the badger population. The Government’s bovine tuberculosis (bTB) policy seeks to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle through intensive culling over a four-year period to remove at least 70% of the badger population in defined areas. Where numbers fall short of that target licensees are required to present additional proposals to Natural England of how the target can be met.
In carrying out its licensing role and assessing the new licence application in Gloucestershire, Natural England has had regard to guidance from Government derived from the bTB control policy and supplementary advice from Defra's Chief Veterinary Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser. This advice concludes that extending the cull would help to reduce the spread of bTB in cattle; failure to extend would raise the risk of increasing bTB through perturbation.
Under the original licence 708 badgers were culled during a six-week period which ended last week. The new licence: specifies that a minimum number of 540 and a maximum number of 940 badgers can be culled in order to deliver disease control benefits. The new licence runs until 18 December inclusive and supplements the original four-year licence granted in October last year. As the close season for cage trapping and shooting begins on 1 December, only controlled shooting will be permitted from 1-18 December.
Source: Natural England