Badger culling may return to Devon this summer

 

The cull in Devon started at this time last year, will it return? The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), was issued two badger control licenses for areas in Devon in 2016 which are valid until 2019. Last year culling began in Devon and Somerset at the end of August and a Devon animal lover expects the cull to return this year. Before a cull can begin an authorisation letter must be published by the Government, so far no such letter has been published.

Animal lover Veronica Leat, from Northam near Bideford, contacted Devon Live to raise concerns she has about a return of the cull this summer. Badger culling was first trialed in Gloucestershire and west Somerset in October 2013, the trials were repeated in 2014 and 2015. The culls were expanded to include parts of Devon in 2016. According to Veronica’s estimates so far 10,866 badgers have been culled in Devon and Cornwall since the cull began. She said: “Badgers have been around for a quarter of a million years and are part of a complex eco-system and food chain. Badgers and cattle are wary of each other and do not freely mix. “Culled badgers are no longer tested for Bovine Tuberculosis. Defra states the Randomized Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) has already determined badgers are carriers, in fact, all animals can spread Bovine TB, even earthworms.

 

 

 

“However past RBCT results show only 1.6% were potentially infectious. By my reckoning, this means that of the 10,866 badgers already killed in the two counties, roughly 172 would have tested positive and 10,694 were healthy animals and died needlessly. “Badgers are culled by two methods: free range shooting and trapping. So far the cull has even failed to reach the Government's low humaneness standards. She added: “As you might imagine, with free shooting at night, a huge percentage of animals are wounded and do not die immediately. Often they cannot be found and must die horrible lingering deaths.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “England has the highest incidence of bovine TB (bTB) in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to beat the disease and protect the livelihoods of our dairy and beef farmers. “Our comprehensive strategy includes one of the most rigorous surveillance programmes for bTB in cattle in the world, strengthening movement controls, improving biosecurity on farms and when trading, badger control in areas where bTB is rife and badger vaccination when possible. “Farmers can access practical guidance to help protect their herds from bTB on the TB Hub, which brings together advice on biosecurity from the government, farming experts and leading vets in one place.

 

 

 

“This strategy has worked overseas and is supported by the Government and Defra chief scientists and leading vets. It is already delivering results—England has this year applied for Officially TB-Free (OTF) status for half the country, two years ahead of schedule.”