The Labour Party will today promise to end the controversial badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire if it wins the General Election.
It's one of six commitments to protect animals being announced on the tenth anniversary of the ban on fox hunting coming into force.
The government has confirmed badger culling has started in Somerset and Gloucestershire as part of its controversial attempt to prevent the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
Farming Minister, MP George Eustice, explains why they feel the culls are necessary:
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 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 ›
A cyclist in Swindon has told police he was attacked by a badger. North Swindon police reacted light-heartedly, posting a tongue-in-cheek incident report on their Facebook page.
One of our more unusual reports in the last week has been from someone who had a close shave with a bristly character in North Swindon.
A cyclist was riding on the path by Thamesdown Drive near Redhouse at night when an aggressive badger rushed out of the undergrowth and attacked him on his bike. The shaken rider escaped by a whisker from this black and white case of assault – pretty paw behaviour indeed.
In all seriousness badgers can be territorial, bold and very hostile, so do be wary if you come across one at night and give it a wide berth. Meanwhile if you’ve been ‘sett upon’ or badgered by this offender let us know.
Work has begun on a road in Wiltshire to fill in two three feet deep potholes which has seen the road closed for three weeks.
Part of the road near Corsley collapsed after badgers tunnelled underneath it and there were fears repair work wouldn't be carried out until any cubs had matured.
However, Natural England have approved the work and the road should open at the end of the week.