Great news that the badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough badgers to meet their greatly reduced targets.
The collapse of the trial means that the controversial cull is to end three weeks earlier than planned. Also, according to a document seen by the BBC, the licence will be revoked early by Natural England (NE).
The NE document says: “It is recommended that the daily removal rate of badgers is monitored closely and if the rate falls below projections (such that a significant reduction in badger numbers may not be achieved) then we should consider terminating culling operations (by revoking the licence) as in this scenario there is unlikely to be a net benefit from continued culling.”
The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds and the one in Gloucestershire was tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.
However, just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension. A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, had wanted to roll out the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an independent panel of experts, which will judge whether the culls have been effective, safe and humane.
Mark Jones, Executive Director of Humane Society International-UK said: “I am much relieved the government’s badger cull fiasco is finally over, for the time being at least. We hope the government will now do the decent thing and admit that killing badgers to control TB in cattle is a ludicrous and inhumane idea.”
Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, said a protest against the cull in Bristol today would now turn into a celebration. “We’ve already learned lessons about culling – that it doesn’t work,” he said. “We know that there is another way – an improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger vaccination.”