23 October 2013
An astonishing eight-week extension to badger culling in Gloucestershire is the latest component in the messy confusion about the “science-led” badger culling pilot trials. These have been repeatedly claimed to be a maximum of six weeks each but one in Somerset is now running for nine weeks.
Badger Trust lawyers have already sent a letter before action  to Defra as an extension of eight weeks was being considered for Gloucestershire. Justification of the extensions is fertile ground for embarrassing U-turns. One has already happened. In an astonishing change of stance today (Oct 23rd). Defra’s Chief Veterinary Officer told the BBC’s Farming Today that six weeks had been “a good target to start with” . This contradicts at least six categorical assertions that the six weeks was the maximum. One such promise was made in the Court of Appeal when defending a challenge brought by the Badger Trust.
The fiascos in Somerset and Gloucestershire, with escalating police costs, are just the precursors to a rollout covering 40 areas up to the end of 2017. They could even involve gassing, already considered as inhumane, to wipe out a protected and iconic species.
All the failures and confusion surrounding the “pilot culls” add up to a formula for political suicide in the future.
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