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Defra revises badger cull figures

A decision on whether to extend the badger cull in Somerset is expected later this week.

Natural England is considering an application from the culling company involved.

This morning Defra has revised its badger population estimates:

Number of badgers in each area

  • 1450 in Somerset (compared to initial estimate of 2400 in September 2012)
  • 2350 in Gloucestershire (compared to initial estimate of 3400 in September 2012)

With these revised figures, Defra says the minimum number of badgers needed to be culled is:

  • 1020 in Somerset
  • 1650 in Gloucestershire

In the six weeks of the cull, 850 badgers have been removed in Somerset.

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Badger cull could be extended for up to three weeks

A pilot badger cull is set to be extended by up to three weeks because fewer animals were killed than had been hoped.

Defra said Natural England was considering an extension to the west Somerset cull to "maximise the disease control benefits".

Just over 40 percent of the badger cull target has been reached, according to reports. Credit: Press Association

According to reports, just 850 badgers have been shot in the area over the six-week trial, just over 40 percent of an initial target of 2,081. The aim was to kill 70 percent of badgers in west Somerset and Gloucestershire by free shooting.

A Defra spokesman said: "Early indications suggest that the Somerset cull has been safe, humane and enough badgers have already been killed to help reduce bovine TB.

"Natural England is currently considering an application from the cull company for a short extension of two to three weeks so as to maximise the disease control benefits achieved this year."

First badger cull in 15 years begins in the south west

'No compulsory water meters', says Government

The Government said a Daily Telegraph report that thousands of homes would be made to install water meters was untrue.

Defra released the following statement:

There is no requirement for water companies to introduce compulsory water meters as a result of the report that has just been published.

In fact, the number of water companies labelled as seriously water stressed was reduced. Metering is just one of many ways water companies look at to manage water resources in their area.

The Government is doing more than ever before to tackle water prices, securing a £50 rebate off the exceptionally high bills of those in the South West, bringing in social tariffs for the first time and, through our Water Bill, bringing in competition for all non-household users.

– Defra spokesperson

Read: 'Bills to rise' under compulsory water meter plans

Defra: Report of compulsory water meter plans 'false'

The Government said a report that it plans to introduce compulsory water meters for millions of householders "is false".

Defra said in a statement of the Daily Telegraph report: "Any suggestion that this has made it more likely that customers will face compulsory water metering is not true.

A water meter.
The Daily Telegraph said bills are set to rise under compulsory water meter plans. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

"No water company is required to introduce compulsory metering, even if it is in an area of severe water stress".

Read: Bills to rise under new compulsory water meter plans

Report: Bills to rise under compulsory water meter plans

Millions of families in Britain could face higher bills under new government plans to install compulsory water meters in homes, the Daily Telegraph has claimed.

The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson MP, this week approved plans to make water companies across a third of the UK fit meters and bill customers for usage.

Ministers have warned that reservoirs are at risk of running dry due to water shortages.

Read: Government says compulsory water meter plan is 'false'

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Badgers could be given contraceptive pill to fight TB spread

Defra are considering plans that could see badgers given an oral contraceptive pill to curb numbers in the ongoing debate about the badger cull.

Badgers could be given the contraceptive pill to fight the spread of TB.
Badgers could be given the contraceptive pill to fight the spread of TB. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

The move is one possible alternative to culling put forward to control the spread of TB over concerns the infection passes from badgers to cattle.

In the draft strategy the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs says: "Proof-of-principle research into the application of fertility control using an injectable contraceptive is ongoing."

Other lethal and non-lethal strategies are also under review.

Princes call for an end of illegal trade in wildlife

The Prince of Wales and Prince William are to host a conference later today which will call for a global partnership to stop the illegal trade in wildlife.

Wildlife losses have reached unsustainable levels, with tens of thousands in some places, the World Wide Fund for Nature said.

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

It added that the world is currently faced with an "epidemic" of poaching and trafficking of illegal wildlife products, caused by an increase in demand, particularly from south-east Asia.

The conference, in conjunction with Defra will be the first stage in a process which will result in key countries signing a declaration at a meeting this Autumn, to end the illegal trade in wildlife.

Read: Prince William: 'We must do more on poaching crimes'

'Badger' flash mob protest against government cull plans

Members of the flash-mob perform outside Defra headquarters today
Members of the flash-mob perform outside Defra headquarters today Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

A badger-inspired flash mob performed outside the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in protest against a government-led cull of badgers.

Around fifty "badgers" performed to Queen guitarist Brian May's own version of The Badger Song, which was inspired by his band's hit song Flash. May is a vocal opponent to the cull.

DEFRA badger flash mob protest against cull
Protestors with their faces painted as badgers demonstrate against badger culling outside DEFRA Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The protesters are urging the Government to abandon "inhumane and impractical' plans to cull the animal to control bovine TB, in favour of using badger vaccinations.

Read more: Brian May calls badger cull go ahead 'very, very sad'

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