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Why the badger cull is being abandoned early

The badger cull in Gloucestershire is being called off - three weeks early - after it became clear not enough badgers would be shot.

The pilot scheme was extended by eight weeks, which was meant to run until December 18th. An extension to the trial in Somerset also failed to meet its target.

Our Gloucestershire correspondent Ken Goodwin has this report.

Statement on why Natural England is ending badger cull

Natural England has released a statement giving its reasons why it has chosen to end the extended pilot badger cull in West Gloucestershire early.

This decision has been taken based on the decreasing number of badgers seen by contractors over recent weeks which makes achieving a further significant reduction in the coming weeks unlikely. The end of the cage-trapping season tomorrow was agreed by the cull company and Natural England as a sensible point to stop activity.

Defra will update Parliament on Monday with the final number of badgers removed during the extension period.

The eight-week licence extension was granted by Natural England on 23 October.

– Natural England

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Pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire to end tomorrow

The culling of badgers in Gloucestershire is to cease at midday tomorrow (Saturday) Credit: PA

Natural England has released a statement saying that it has agreed with the company undertaking the pilot badger cull in west Gloucestershire that culling operations will cease tomorrow (Saturday, 30 November).

It adds that, following discussions with the NFU, the cull company and Natural England, the licence for the extension of this year’s pilot cull will stop with effect from noon on Saturday.

The licence for the cull - which was introduced to curb the spread of TB in cattle had been extended as not enough badgers had been killed for the trial.

Natural England confirms badger cull to end

Natural England has confirmed to ITV News West Country that the controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire is being called off early.

The licence has been revoked and the cull will end at 12 noon tomorrow (Saturday).

An eight-week extension to the original six-week trial was due to end on December 18, but not enough badgers have been killed to meet the reduced targets.

A planned protest against the cull in Bristol tomorrow is still expected to go ahead.

Brian May launches High Court action to stop the cull

Brian May's Save Me organisation launches High Court action Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Brian May's Save Me organisation has launched a High Court action demanding an immediate halt to the badger cull.

Represented by leading Human Rights QC, John Cooper and Solicitor David Wells of Wells Burcombe Solicitors, Save Me has filed an ‘exceptionally urgent’ High Court Judicial Review Claim calling for an immediate halt to the culling presently operating under extended licence in Gloucestershire.

The Save Me claim names Secretary of State For Environment Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, and Natural England as defendants.

Other Interested Parties are named as the National Farmers Union and the Badger Trust.

In a statement Save Me says

"The call for an urgent review is based on the reasoning that with the Gloucestershire extension already operative, unless this is urgently addressed the period of the extension might elapse before a formal review can be applied."

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Somerset badger cull fails to reach target

The three week extension of the badger cull in Somerset has failed to reach its target.

The Government has announced 90 badgers were killed in the period up to Friday, taking the total number killed in the cull area to 940.

That represents a 65% reduction in the badger population - less than the 70% target.

Today I am announcing to the House that the three week extension period in

the Somerset control area concluded as planned on Friday 1st November.

During this period, a further 90 badgers have been removed, giving an overall total of 940 for the first year of the four year cull.

This represents a reduction of 65% in the estimated badger population before culling began.

This will deliver clear disease benefits as part of a four year cull in the area.

– Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

A similar cull in Gloucestershire has been extended until December 18th.

Extending badger cull is 'a travesty'

A former scientific advisor to the Government has called a decision to extend the pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire by another eight weeks 'a travesty'.

Badger numbers in the area have decreased by less than a third since the cull began - the target was 70 per cent.

Dr Chris Cheeseman, from Stroud, says the decision will not help prevent TB in cattle, and that the government's decision is NOT being led by science.

Laura Makin-Isherwood reports

Badger cull extended for eight weeks in Gloucestershire

Natural England has confirmed it has granted a licence to extend the pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire for another eight weeks.

Badger cull pilot extended for another eight weeks in Gloucestershire Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The licence was granted following a confirmation that only 30% of the badger population had been culled during the initial six week pilot.

An extra three weeks has already been granted in Somerset, where 60% of the badger population was culled.

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