Gloucestershire badger cull licence extension granted

Badger Defra said 708 badgers had been killed in the six-week Gloucestershire cull

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The pilot badger cull in west Gloucestershire will continue for another eight weeks after a licence was granted, Natural England has confirmed.

During the six-week period of the original licence, 708 badgers were killed in the county, 942 fewer than the target of 1,650.

Ministers and the NFU say culling badgers will curb TB in cattle, but protesters say it has little effect.

A licence has already been granted to extend the Somerset cull to 1 November.

Natural England said it had granted the extension after taking advice from Defra's chief veterinary officer and chief scientific adviser who said failure to extend would raise the risk of increasing the spread of TB by dispersing badgers.

The new licence, which runs until 18 December, specifies that a minimum of 540 and a maximum of 940 badgers can be culled in order to control the disease.

'Badger cull madness'

As the close season for cage trapping and shooting begins on 1 December, only controlled shooting will be permitted from 1-18 December.

Animal welfare charity, Humane Society International (HSI) UK, said it was "appalled" to hear the extension had been granted.

The charity said prolonging the shooting "is the very worst thing the government can do because it increases the risk of spreading bovine TB as badgers flee the area".

Gloucestershire resident Mark Jones, who is executive director of HSI UK, said: "I am flabbergasted that an eight-week extension has been granted to Defra's badger killing fiasco in Gloucestershire.

"By extending culls here as well as in Somerset, the pilots are moving even more dangerously away from the recommendations of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial which were very clear - the longer you subject badgers to this sort of disruption, the greater the risk of worsening the spread of bovine TB among both badgers and cattle.

"Surely somebody in government can put a stop to Owen Paterson's badger cull madness before it's too late?"

Badger Trust spokesman Jack Reedy said: "It goes against the advice that Defra gave to itself, that it should be a maximum of six weeks.

"If they're not following their own terms of reference then that's something that is very actionable so we shall be going either for a judicial review or for an injunction."

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