A cull of 70% of badgers over six weeks is expected to start today in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Here is what to expect from the move:
- Badgers will be shot in the wild instead of being trapped before culling.
- Pilot culls will see the killing of 70% of badgers in each area, which could mean the culling of 5,000 animals.
- The government spent £90m on TB control in England during 2010-11, including £6.9m on research and development.
- Surveys in the 1980s and 1990s suggested there are between 250,000 and 300,000 badgers in Britain.
- Defra estimates that the cull – across a 150km2 area during the summer for the next four years – will lead to a 16% cut in bovine TB.
Protesters have gathered before the planned start of the cull of up to 5,000 badgers in six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett addressed the event, saying:
I completely understand the distress that the continuing problem of TB in cattle is causing to farmers. But wanting to do something should not be pushing this government to make the terrible decision to go ahead with this cull, which could actually magnify the TB problem.
The planned actions in Somerset and Gloucester are inhumane and not backed by the scientific evidence.
A cull of 5,000 badgers over six weeks is expected to start today in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Scores of protesters are expected to descend on two 100 square mile pilot areas in the west of each region.
Farmers have permission to go out and shoot as many as 80 badgers a night as part of a wider programme to stop the animals spreading the cattle disease bovine tuberculosis (bTB).