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DEFRA defends cost of badger cull

DEFRA has defended the high cost of last year's badger culls Credit: PA

It's been revealed that last year's badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire cost taxpayers £6.3 million - an average of £3,350 for every animal killed.

The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs has justified the figures.

England has the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe. The cost of the badger culls need to be seen in the context of the devastating scale of the threat bovine TB poses to our farming industry and food security - £500 million over the last decade. Doing nothing is not an option.

We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, badger vaccination and culling.

Many of the costs associated with the pilot culls last year were one-offs and have not been repeated this year.

– Defra spokesperson

It adds that the costs were largely due to ensuring the pilot culls were rigorously monitored for safety and humaneness to provide robust data for the Independent Expert Panel to assess.

The cost of last year's badger cull is revealed

Each badger killed during the culls cost more than £3,000 Credit: PA

It's been revealed that last year's badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire cost taxpayers an average of £3,350 for every animal killed.

1,879 animals were killed in the pilot culls - 955 badgers in Somerset and 924 in Gloucestershire. The cullings are aimed at stopping the spread of TB in cattle and cost a total of almost £6.3 million according the Government figures.

DEFRA says the costs were high because of the need to monitor the operation for safety and humaneness.

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Decision expected on Badger Trust appeal

The pilot cull of badgers has been taking place to help curb the spread of TB in cattle Credit: PA

Opponents of the badger culls will find out today if their latest legal challenge has been successful.

The Badger Trust is appealing against an earlier ruling that culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire could go ahead without independent monitors.

The trust argues this breaches a government promise.

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NFU pleased with badger cull

NFU pleased with badger cull Credit: PA

The six week badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset officially ends today. It's the second year that badgers have been shot to try to stop them spreading TB to cattle. Last year the cull was extended because not enough animals had been killed. Protesters say it's been a failure again this year, but the National Farmer's Union disagree.

I think generally we are pretty pleased with how it has gone. In large parts of the area we are seeing very few badgers left on the ground now. Unfortunately there are one or two areas where we haven't been able to be as effective as we'd like to because of the actions of protesters but largely we are very happy with it.

– Andrew Guest, National Farmers' Union

9 out of 10 people against the badger cull, according to new poll

One alternative to culling is badger vaccination

Results from a poll on the recently trialled badger cull suggests that 9 out of 10 people in the UK are against the practice.

The trial cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset officially ended today. Of the 2000 polled, only 3 in 4 were aware of the cull. They were then given information about the UK trial, and the Welsh government’s success in cutting bovine TB through vaccination rather than culling.

The final poll then showed that 89% said that they wanted the government to stop culling badgers, and instead to follow the Welsh example.

The poll was carried out by ComRes, and was commissioned by Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust.

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Badger cull under discussion at Labour party conference

Badger culling will be under discussion in Manchester today Credit: PA

The controversial badger culls, which have now resumed in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire, are being discussed at the Labour party conference today.

The fringe event has been organised by three animal welfare groups. The speakers include a member of the independent monitoring panel which assessed last year's cull. The Badger Trust claims a leaked report shows that records of the number of badgers killed, were falsified.

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