The cost of the badger cull was £3,350 for every badger killed, official figures show. The pilots cost the taxpayer £6.3m in their first year, during which 1,879 badgers were kiled in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
The figures are revealed in an article on the Guardian's website (14 November). Anti-cull campaigners said the figures did not include the cost of policing the culls, which were £3.5m, bringing the cost per badger to more than £5,200.
The government, meanwhile, said the costs were high due to having to monitor the humaneness and efficacy of the culls, with £2.6m spent on monitoring humaneness.
Such monitoring has, of course, been abandoned by the government this year, for the second year of culling.
Dominic Dyer of the Badger Trust is quoted as saying: “Every badger killed actually cost £5,200 – and that is simply beyond belief.”
You can read the full article here.
Another “celebrity” has added his voice to the debate about badger culling, but this time it is Steve Backshall, the respected naturalist and TV presenter.
In a comment piece on the Guardian website (10 November), Backshall explains some of the background to the cull, and admits that he is biased because of his “passion for wild things”. But this is why, he says, neither wildlife campaigners nor farmers – both of whom have a vested interest – should be “making the big decisions” on bovine TB and culling.
Backshall goes into the effects of perturbation, and explains how TB is also present in “almost every other animal in the British countryside”.
So, does he propose a solution? Backshall reiterates the need for cattle control measures and vaccination of both badgers and cattle – a trial of which is currently being tested in Ethiopia – and says that the European commission has set a 10-year deadline for the vaccine's approved use for exports to the EU.
His comment piece is well informed and passionate, calling for the government, finally, to take heed of public opinion. You can read the full article here.
Almost 700 incidents of badger persecution were reported in 2013, including badgers killed by dogs and snares and setts gassed with vehicle exhausts, according to a report by the Badger Trust.
On the Guardian website last week (2nd October), Damian Carrington reported that the trust believed there were many thousands more incidents that went unreported and that badger persecution was rising.
Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said the controversial badger culls in England were making killing the animals seem more acceptable to some. “The demonisation of the species by the government and the farming industry to justify the disastrous badger cull policy is making a bad situation worse,” he said.
The charge was rejected as “totally irresponsible” by a spokesman for the National Farmers Union. “The NFU totally condemns any illegal activity that results in the death of any animal or the destruction of its habitat and always has. We utterly reject the allegation that we have demonised badgers. We have always said we want to see healthy badgers and healthy cattle.”
The Badger Trust report details a wide range of badger persecution, such as poisoning and setts being burned out with petrol. Badger baiting and sett interference, including tunnels being ploughed up by farmers or dug out by property developers, were the most frequently-reported incidents. “Badger persecution is a blight on our modern society and involves people from all backgrounds and walks of life,” said Dyer.
There were 697 reports in 2013, up from 353 in 2012. The trust noted marked fluctuations from year to year, which it says may result from the difficulty of gathering data on crimes committed in rural areas. There were 851 reports in 2012 and 198 in 2011. A spokesman for Defra said: “Any illegal activity should be reported to the police.”
You can read the full article here.
According to a report on the BBC website today (21 October 2014), a source close to Defra has said that plans to extend the badger culls will be cancelled if the pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire, which came to an end on Monday, miss their targets.
The BBC says it understands that Somerset met its target of 316 badgers, but in Gloucestershire, only 253 out of the target of 615 were culled. The figures have not been officially confirmed.
BBC Points West politics editor Paul Barltrop said: "I've talked to a senior Liberal Democrat who is unequivocal - if it fails to hit its targets [the extension] will not be allowed."
Jay Tiernan, from Stop the Cull, said Somerset protesters felt they had achieved "quite a lot" as the maximum target had not been reached. Cull operators have admitted that disruption caused by protesters di have an impact on numbers.
You can read the full BBC story here.
Protesters have managed to seriously disrupt the badger cull in Gloucestershire, according to a story on the Guardian website today (23rd September).
Gloscon, the company licensed to carry out the cull, wrote to farmers in the cull zone to say that activists have been very successful at preventing marksmen achieving “planned numbers” of badger kills.
The NFU has refused to comment on the letter, but the news is undoubtedly bad for the NFU and the government. Last year's culls were deemed unsuccessful because the required number of badgers was not reached.
Protesters have added heat-detecting equipment this year so they can spot cullers in the dark.
The report also says that a female badger was discovered dead by an anti-cull patrol having suffered gunshot wounds to the abdomen, suggesting that she died a slow death rather than the supposed quick kill of a shot to the chest, which the cullers aim to achieve. The badger was taken to Secret World wildlife rescue centre.
You can read the full Guardian story by Steven Morris here.
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