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Natural England plots next stage for badger cull

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

Comments (10)

The Government body in charge of the controversial badger cull has announced the next stage in the process to roll out the cull to a much wider area, even though it admits 'no decision' has been taken by ministers on whether there will be any more culls.

Natural England has told culling operators and landowners to prepare to submit "expressions of interest" for licences for a 2014 cull of badgers.

The quango is also inviting anyone to submit potential new areas for a badger cull, both this year and in 2015.

The trial cull in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset in the second half of last year failed to meet its target of killing enough badgers, even though the cull period was extended, partly due to disruption caused by animal rights activists.

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Natural England said the results of those culls were currently being evaluated by an independent expert panel. It said the culls' aims were to see if a wider cull could be safe, effective and humane.

"The panel's report, due to be published soon, will inform a Government decision on the wider roll-out of badger control," said a Natural England spokesman. "If the roll-out is confirmed, the first stage of the licensing process would require potential new application areas to submit an "expression of interest" form. Submissions for 2014 would then be screened by Natural England to determine which candidates should be invited to apply for a licence to control badgers to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

"No decision has yet been taken by Government about further licences for badger culls. However, gathering important details, such as the land and landowners who would be involved in the cull zone, will help put applicants in a good position to seek a licence later this year in the event that a decision is made by the Government to extend the granting of badger culling licences to other parts of England most severely affected by bovine TB," he added.

The cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire was widely supported – although not unanimously – by farmers and local politicians.

Natural England explained that it had to start preparing for a second cull before any decision was taken. "Gathering the necessary information to satisfy the criteria for the policy and to submit a licence application can take applicants a significant amount of time," a spokesman said.

"If this process were to begin after confirmation of the roll-out there is a serious risk that licences could not be obtained in time for culling to take place this year. That is why Natural England is encouraging potential applicants now to begin gathering the information."

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  • Clued-Up  |  January 20 2014, 10:00PM

    I see Jake_Blake's adopted the Paterson approach - claim every failure is a success!

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  • groundnut  |  January 20 2014, 9:54PM

    Jake Blake-It is not surprising that you have not heard of Science. You have managed to speak at length about, free shooting and killing as a solution to the long term eradication of BTB. And yet neither RBCT, ISG, or PLOS ONE support the mass slaughter of healthy Wildlife, as a long term solution to the eradication of BTB in all. For your benefit that includes Cattle. Because you do not know what you have killed (Healthy or TB infected.) you don't know how many were there or are left or what perturbation has occurred. You don't even know how much this Political exercise. Sorry this organised farmers killing exercise has cost. And you do not know if local eradication of a wildlife species has occurred. So why is the incidence of TB going down faster in Northern Ireland than in England? No Badger culling in Northern Ireland. No badger culling in Wales, no controversy in Wales, No police costs in Wales. ONLY Science in Wales and Northern Ireland. And in Gloucestershire less than 43% of the farms in the cull area contained cattle. So was this increased risk of Perturbation planned by DEFRA and the NFU? Your suggestion that you be allowed to get on with this killing exercise at will, and close Footpaths, and presumably that the taxpayers keep footing the bill, is absurd. But that is what all who choose to go down the road of totally ignoring Science and its experts are involved in.. Shake hands with the King of that Political thinking Owen Paterson. First tell him to provide the truth and provide at least one factual statement to support that thinking, and its cost. Even this week Natural England tell us that no decision on any rollout will take place until after the IEP Report. As the BBC publish a statement from the PCC of Dorset, that the culling starts in Dorset this year. We are not all fools; we do understand the problems and the science, and the Politics.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  January 20 2014, 8:00PM

    The cull was sett up for several reasons; Primarily: [1] To reduce TB - If the reported population reductions are accurate (or better) then following on from what the RBCT achieved (or didn't) reductions in TB will almost certainly be achieved. Secondarily; [2] To see if farmers and landowners can join together in an organised way and run a successful culling operation - Once again, if the details released are true then this has also been achieved. [3] To test free shooting - There were two purposes of this; [i] To test humanness - On this point we will have to wait [ii] How it can be used - It seems unlikely that free shooting can be used in isolation for culling, but this will need to be assessed as if disruption had not taken place. However if free-shooting passes [i] there is no reason it can't be used to supplement cage trapping to increase cull rates. Considering that 1 & 2 have been achieved, there is no reason why a cage trapping cull can not be given the green light now. Whether free-shooting can be used with it remains to be seen. Then there remains one more issue. This cull has significantly reduced the badger population, under much more protest than that seen in the RBCT. So the question remains how much more could be achieved if curfews were placed on the public footpaths. There are many ways to protest and certainly many things that I disagree with in this world. However, my right to free speech and protest does not give me the right to hinder the rights of others. If people want to protest against the badger cull that is fine. But what is not fine is to allow them to stage the protest so that it hinders the very activity that they are protesting against. There are plenty of places that they can stage a protest, the cull zone should not be one.

    |   3
  • Free2opine  |  January 20 2014, 4:29PM

    barney2. I do not wish to say anything more, at present. I am almost positive that there are hurdles to overcome before any large roll-outs of more culls.

    |   3
  • barney2  |  January 20 2014, 3:26PM

    Free2opine Would you like to tell us what this cheaper more effective way is ?.

    |   -4
  • Charlespk  |  January 20 2014, 3:01PM

    Badgerists just continually ignore the facts and the real science. Reactor cattle are killed and then M.bovis is spread insidiously by badgers and 'Clonal Expansion'. . This has been proven so by spoligotype and VNTR profiling (Variable Number Tandem Repeat), a location in a genome where a short nucleotide sequence is organized as a tandem repeat. If bTB were mostly spread by cow to cow contact as badgerists still try and claim, you'd expect the geographical pattern of spoligotypes to be an ever-changing mosaic, and with the extremely aggressive culling of infected cows that has long been done, you'd expect one or two spoligotypes of bTB to have gone extinct from chance alone. If on the other hand bTB in cows was mostly caused by spread from a fairly static reservoir host to cows, then you'd expect the geographical pattern of spoligotypes to stay constant. The latter pattern is what is seen. . Badgers are now the major reservoir host of bTB, and it is only by aggressively culling badgers everywhere to limit their spread, and by focal culling to local extinction if necessary in bTB hotspot areas when any reactors have also been dealt with, that this disease is going to be brought under control again. Subsequent to bTB being brought under control, there needs to be an ongoing cattle testing and low-level culling of badgers to keep their numbers down, since a high badger population is always going to pose a threat of bTB epidemic. . . . Badgers and bovine TB. This is the REAL science. The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts. http://tinyurl.com/bw7jpxy (open in a new window)

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  • Free2opine  |  January 20 2014, 1:52PM

    I can't see anywhere in this report about how the new round of culls are being carried out. If the last trials were a supposed failure, then one can assume that the format will be changed. There are cheaper more effective ways, that wouldn't mean the police being involved. Provided they can find enough farmers, in appropriate areas, who want a cull, then no doubt the culling procedures can then be worked out.

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  • don_harold  |  January 20 2014, 1:23PM

    In what possible way can the last trials be considered anything but a complete failure? ...politics, ignore science and press ahead anyway!

    |   -9
  • groundnut  |  January 20 2014, 12:52PM

    More of the same, from the same organisations (DEFRA, Natural England and the NFU). Has anyone actually seen anything factual in the way of any report on this last Killing exercise? Even the official Cost figures would be a start. Have we even had any update on the planned progress by those Scientists involved on progress of Cattle Vaccination, Diva test field trials? Have we even waited for the 2013 update and planned 2014 Welsh Government programme. Costs and efficacy of that would seem to be very relevant. But why does DEFRA have so many scientists within its organisation and its AHVLA group. If they are bypassed in favour of Owen Paterson's next killing exercise. There is enough scientific evidence already available to indicate clearly that this non science based assault on only one section of the BTB problem is not the way forward, and indeed was not viable as carried out. If any section of those planned in the organisation and implementation of the 2013 Cull had given evidence that they had acted honestly throughout in the supply and quality of the information required. Then many would have less concern about this statement by NE that nothing is known, prior to the IEP report. The IEP report has already indicated that it only covers a part of the Cull duration. That in itself gives no confidence that the results are anything other than political and not a comprehensive or again science based proper assessment. NOTHING has Changed with the POLITICS.

    |   -12
  • Clued-Up  |  January 20 2014, 9:03AM

    Let's be more precise ... It's not FARMERS who support the badger cull (no-one's tried to find out their opinion), it's the NFU Council that does. According to report, only half the people on the NFU Council earn their living from farming. Only 18% British farmers belong to the NFU. It's wrong to tarnish the reputation of the farming community by claiming they support the badger cull. It's also wrong to say local MPs support the badger cull. A few from the Tory and LibDem parties do, though their support is fast-fading. Labour MPs don't - as the public loathes the badger cull that will give them an extra advantage in the 2014 and 2015 elections.

    |   -10