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Badger 'culling' licence issued in West Somerset

United Kingdom
The licence will be valid for four years and will cover just under 100 sq miles of West Somerset. However, due to immense public opposition, plans for the second pilot cull of badgers in Gloucestershire are falling apart, says the Badger Trust.

This second licence for a pilot cull of badgers has been issued because farmers claim the animals are to blame for causing tuberculosis (TB) in cows.

Government agency 'Natural England' issued the four-year permit for an area of West Somerset allowing the "control" of the nocturnal animal to prevent TB.

In order for the licence to be issued, access to more than 70% of land within the designated cull zone was necessary.

Simon Nash, from Somerset Wildlife Trust, said culling was "not the way to control TB in cattle".

The licence will cover 97 sq miles (250 square km), which amounts to more than 70% of the pilot area. Natural England says the licence will enable landowners to cull badgers over a continuous six-week period every year for the next four years.

However, in an interview with the Sunday Times, Jan Rowe, one of the directors of Gloscon, the company organising the cull in Gloucestershire, has said that the cull may need to be extended beyond the original six-week period.

"The Government and the farming industry attempt to justify the cull on the grounds that it is science led," says the Badger Trust. “Clearly it is anything but. It is degenerating into a shambles. Lengthening the cull period would be yet another major departure from the criteria spelt out by the ISG (the Independent Scientific Group).

“The ISG’s findings and conclusions were based on the killing of cage-trapped badgers. On the grounds of cost, the Government has proposed instead a completely untried culling method –‘free-shooting’ at night.”

“With every passing week the Government’s claims that the cull is science led are shown up for what they are - a sham,” says the Badger Trust.

Animal Equality urges people to sign the petition, and consider supporting your local hunt saboteur group. You can help by donating to a fund especially set up for groups who will be out stopping the killing. Click here to donate for equipment and fuel.

You may also want to consider volunteering your time to carry out non-violent direct action to stop the killing in the cull zones. People are needed to drive, map-read, survey badger sets, and be present when the killing starts. A list of local hunt saboteur groups can be found here.