Further measures to combat bovine TB have been revealed following the announcement of the results of the second year of badger culls.
An action plan for farmers sets out plans to help reduce the risk of disease spread on their farms. There will be a new service giving farmers within the badger cull areas bespoke veterinary advice on TB management.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss says the new approach will continue to include culling.
During the last parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.
The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.
There are also plans for a consultation on tougher measures for transporting cattle. An online map will show high and low risk areas. The Government has awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to help them introduce checking systems.
Independently audited results of the badger culls show cull figures for the year, and says that levels of humaneness and a high standard of public safety were maintained. In Somerset the target was exceeded.
- 341 badgers removed in Somerset
- 274 badgers removed in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire Police are regarding their response to this years' badger cull as a success.
Operation Themis focussed on community policing as opposed to public order policing, like last year. Officers found that most people were co-operative and courteous because of this style of policing.
In 2013, the first year of the cull, 38 people were arrested. This year two were arrested and one was served a court summons.
We would like to thank everyone involved and directly affected by the badger cull for their help and understanding during what could be a very difficult time. Those directly involved or indirectly involved in the cull were helpful, co-operative and courteous to our officers. Their positive conduct was reflected by the fact that very few criminal incidents took place during the whole 6 week cull period.
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.
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.
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.
Campaigners have lost the latest round of their legal battle over the culling of badgers.
They accused the Government at the Court of Appeal of acting unlawfully by allowing the latest badger culls to go ahead without an independent expert panel (IEP) to monitor whether the animals are being killed in a humane way.
The Badger Trust asked three judges at a recent hearing in London to rule that there was a "legitimate expectation" that an IEP would be put in place.
But, in a decision announced today, Lord Justice Davis, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke and Lord Justice Bean dismissed their case.
The challenge arose from a decision to sanction a second year of "controlled shooting" of free-roaming badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset as part of efforts to tackle tuberculosis in cattle
The Government and farmers insist culling is necessary to tackle TB in livestock.
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.
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.
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.
As the trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset come to an end, anti cull campaigners say it was a failure last year, and when the figures are released, they will show that this year has been a failure too.
The six week badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset officially end tomorrow. It's the second year that the cull has been piloted in both areas. No figures are available yet for the number of badgers killed.
The National Farmer's Union says that it feels the cull has gone better this year than last.