We are horrified at new figures which reveal the pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire is even more of a farce than the one in Somerset.
It has been confirmed that the number of badgers shot during the pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire is only 30 per cent of the target they were set. This is less than half the minimum 70 per cent target set by the government itself to make sure bovine TB in cattle is not spread further.
The government have now said they want to extend this cull for a further eight weeks, more than double the original trial period.
RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said:
“The situation was a farce before – but these new revelations about how off-target the Gloucestershire cull has been are even worse.
“The Government is making a mockery of scientific opinion and their own targets by continuing with this cull – it is a complete shambles. Badgers are dying in their hundreds and it is likely that bovine TB in cattle in these areas is being made worse not better.
“The six-week trials were intended as a way of testing the effectiveness and humaneness of shooting badgers as a means of controlling bovine TB in cattle and this has clearly failed.
“An immediate stop must be put to this fiasco before more animal lives are lost and the spread of this devastating disease made worse.”
An extension will potentially make the situation worse
The trial in Gloucestershire killed 708 out of a planned 1,650 badgers in the cull area.
Last week Defra revealed 850 badgers out of a planned 1,020 had been shot in Somerset, which works out at around 58 per cent rather than the 70 per cent target. This pilot cull was subsequently extended for a further three weeks.
Extending both culls means they will be longer than the period recommended to Defra by a group of scientific experts based on the original Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT).
It was using these recommendations that the current cull methods were developed, so any extension would go against these recommendations and could potentially make the situation worse.
We were appalled when the first shots were fired against badgers at the end of August. We care about cattle and badgers equally but do not think a cull is the answer to bovine TB in cattle. We remain committed to persuading the government to put a stop to what we believe is a misguided, unethical and unscientific attempt to control bovine TB in cattle, which will not help solve the problems caused by this devastating disease or benefit cattle, badgers or dairy farmers and rural communities.
How you can help
Take action – Email your MP now and urge them to sign EDM 299 which calls for any decision on a roll out of the cull to be subject to a vote in the House of Commons.
Please visit our badger campaign page where there is further information about what you can do to help during this cull.
We can’t do it without you
To help support the RSPCA, please donate online or text HELP to 78866 to give £3. Text costs £3 plus one standard network rate message.