21 August 2013 by Ben Falconer
Badger culling could start on Monday, it has been claimed. Trial culls planned for west Gloucestershire and Somerset may start on August 26, The Guardian reports.
It comes as the National Farmers Union tries through the courts to ban protesters from the cull areas. The Guardian reported today that sources inside DEFRA said the intended start date for the cull is set to be Monday.
Two pilot culls intended to test the safety, efficacy and humaneness of culling have been delayed since last year, and licences were granted to allow the shooting to proceed from June 1 this year.
DEFRA said the cull start is a matter for the contractors
The NFU will try to get an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, against some protesters, in the High Court tomorrow.
Last year, 26,000 cattle were slaughtered because they had bovine tuberculosis. Some farmers claim badgers need to be culled in a pilot study to assess whether a wider cull will work.
Campaigners including Queen guitarist Brian May believe the badger is being blamed unfairly, and a vaccine for cattle is the best way to deal with the problem which cost the nation £19million last year.
Labour Parliamnetary candidate for Stroud, David Drew, said: “My view is that this just compounds the mistakes that the Government has made and marks a very sad day for Gloucestershire. The questions I would now ask is what safety case has been made of the threat to people in the area from free shooting. Secondly what research evidence will be accrued from the badger carcasses so that we get some idea of the prevalence of bTB with a proviso that if many of the badgers were TB free that the cull should be immediately ended.”
Liz Gaffer of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting said: “if the aim of the cull is to see how humane shooting badgers at night is, and DEFRA have admitted many will not die straight away, then it is not surprising that ordinary, law abiding people are prepared to do something to save any animal from a slow painful death. We do not see ourselves as activists; everyone joining a patrol is briefed on abiding by the law, acting peacefully and on their own health and safety.”