Marksmen were out in Somerset and Gloucestershire last night as the second badger cull got underway. The government confirmed shooting has started as part of its controversial attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
This year targets have been lowered to 316 badgers in Somerset, and 615 in Gloucestershire. Overall the aim is for a reduction of 70 per cent in badger populations over the successive culls.
Protesters were also out in both counties trying to disrupt the cull.
Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary has spoken out against the Government's decision to resume culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
She says the Government should listen to the scientific evidence and put an end to what she calls 'disastrous badger culls'.
Last year an Independent Expert Panel concluded that these badger culls were ‘ineffective’ and ‘inhumane’, and more recently they have been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England. But instead of abandoning these appalling culls the Government have chosen to press ahead without any further independent expert monitoring.
Labour has consistently said that to get Bovine TB under control we need to bring in stricter cattle measures and prioritise badger and cattle vaccinations, but these culls are not the answer.
Team Badger, representing 25 different organisations with a total of 2 million supporters, is calling for the second year of badger culling in Somerset and Gloucestershire to be stopped.
It's almost beyond belief that the Government is blundering ahead with a second year of inept and barbaric badger killing. TB in cattle in England is currently at it lowest level in 10 years, the drop being predictably the result of improved husbandry in cattle. So this is a most inappropriate moment for Cameron to be wasting tax payers' money persecuting our wildlife against the advice of every independent scientist in the field; even the Government's own expert panel has branded the cull as ineffective and inhumane.
Current revelations from a whistle blower damn the process even more - making it clear that the numbers the present shooters are working towards are completely unreliable. This cull is a failure and a disgrace - no more than the fulfilment of a dirty promise - which will rebound on this Government at election time.
If you read the document you'll see it is full of caveats about the unreliability of the methods they have used. To then use such methods to derive some target numbers in an attempt to give the culls an air of scientific credibility is an affront to the principles of good science.
This year's controversial badger cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire is underway, the Government has announced.
The second year of a four-year scheme has started in the two counties in an attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
We are pursuing a comprehensive strategy supported by leading vets which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in edge areas and culling badgers where the disease is rife. This is vital for the future of our beef and dairy industries, and our nation's food security. At present we have the highest rates of bovine TB in Europe. Doing nothing is not an option and that is why we are taking a responsible approach to dealing with bovine TB.
The Government has confirmed that a second cull of badgers has begun in West Somerset and Gloucestershire. Protestors spent last night patrolling the cull zones trying to prevent the animals being shot as part of the Government's attempts to control Bovine TB.
The pilot badger culls are set to start again in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Farming minister George Eustice outlined the plans for the culls, which are expected to begin as early as tonight. To fulfil the licensing criteria, marksmen will have to cull at least 615 badgers in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset to reach the estimated target of removing 70% of the badger population.
People fighting the resumption of the badger cull began patrolling last night in West Somerset because they believe the cull is imminent.
There was no sign of culling activity, but reports are growing that the cull is due to begin tonight.
The badger cull is due to start shortly in Gloucestershire and the county's Assistant Chief Constable says public safety is a priority.Read the full story ›
An announcement is expected to be made about this year's badger culls.
New Environment Secretary Liz Truss is due to make a written statement today about the resumption of culls in Gloucestershire and West Somerset.
The High Court has rejected an 11th-hour challenge to a Government decision to let the latest badger cull go ahead without monitoring by a panel of independent experts.
The Badger Trust wanted a ruling to block "controlled shooting" of free-roaming badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset unless a panel is put in place.
But Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, sitting in London, today dismissed the application for judicial review.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is testing whether the shooting method can be rolled out to other parts of the country to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.
Last year an independent expert panel (IEP) said in a report on the first year of the four-year pilot schemes that controlled shooting could not deliver the level of culling needed to bring about a reduction in bovine TB and was not humane.