September 11, 2014
Badger cull dismay for wildlife carers in the Burnham-On-Sea area

Wildlife carers in the Burnham-On-Sea area say they are "dismayed" by the start of a controversial badger cull in Somerset for a second year.

DEFRA confirmed this week that the second year of the pilot badger culls are underway in Somerset as part of their "comprehensive strategy to deal with bovine TB".

But Secret World Wildlife Rescue, based in East Huntspill, said they are dismayed by the decison to resume the culling.

In a statement the charity says: "Secret World Wildlife Rescue is dismayed by the Government’s intention to resume the culling of badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire."

"Despite the evidence of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) showing that the 2013 cull was both ineffective and inhumane, up to 1849 badgers will be shot in our countryside over the next few weeks."

"SWWR is concerned for the badgers’ welfare; up to 22.8% of the animals in the 2013 cull suffered, taking longer than five minutes to die from gunshot wounds causing welfare groups and scientists to condemn the cull as inhumane."

But Environment Secretary Liz Truss has defended the cull, saying: "The second year of our planned, four-year badger culls is underway. This is part of our comprehensive strategic approach to make England TB-free."

"This approach includes cattle movement restrictions, vaccination in the edge area, and culling where the disease is rife. Culling operations have started in the same areas as last year, West Gloucestershire and West Somerset."

"It is vital that we work to make England bovine TB-free – doing nothing is not an option. England now has the highest incidence of TB in Europe – greater than the sum of all other EU Member States combined. Between 1997 and 2010, TB in cattle increased nine fold, threatening the future of our beef and dairy industries and our nation’s food security."

"That is why this government is pursuing a comprehensive strategic approach, based on best international practice, supported by leading vets and endorsed by the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Defra’s Chief Scientist and the Chief Veterinary Officer. Overseas experience shows that in order to eradicate the disease, the problem must be tackled in both cattle and wildlife."

"Therefore, our approach includes tighter cattle testing and movement restrictions, vaccination of badgers in the edge area and culling of badgers in those areas where the disease is rife. This approach has worked in Australia which is now bovine TB-free, and Ireland and New Zealand, Where incidence has dramatically reduced."

"Last week I launched the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme to support badger vaccination projects in those areas next to the high risk area. Vaccinating healthy badgers in this way is intended to create a buffer zone to help prevent the spread of bovine TB to new parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is currently very low. Vaccination cannot, however, replace culling in TB hotspots such as Gloucestershire and Somerset as it doesn’t cure infected badgers who will continue to spread disease."

"This year’s culls incorporate improvements learned from last year’s culls and those set out in the Independent Expert Panel’s report. We have made changes to improve the humaneness and effectiveness, including better training and monitoring. The culls will be monitored closely and we have published details of the monitoring procedures that AHVLA and Natural England will follow online."

Meanwhile, Avon and Somerset Police have said that public safety is their main priority. The force faced criticism after it emerged earlier this year that NFU representatives were in the control room with them during the cull.

Supt Kevin Instance from Avon and Somerset Police told representatives from Somerset Against the Badger Cull and Somerset Badger Patrol that they would not have cull companies in the control room this year.

He said: "Last year I was the first police commander in the UK to have responsibility for policing the consequences of a pilot badger cull of this nature involving the live shooting at night. There was lots of uncertainty on how the pilot would develop and what issues the police would face."

"Maximising public safety and having the situational awareness of what was happening on the ground were the key parts of my planning. Having now experienced the cull activity last year and having debriefed and consulted extensively, I feel that I am now able to build a command and control arrangement that will not including having representatives from the cull company and NFU in the police control room without compromising safety."


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