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Bovine TB
Pilot badger culls to continue – but no wider roll out

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‘THE purpose of the pilots was to test our assumptions about safety, efficacy and humaneness of controlled shooting. This has now been completed through the high-quality information generated that will enable us to plan how we proceed in controlling this wildlife reservoir of bovine TB effectively, humanely and safely.’

So says the Government in its response to the report by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) on the safety, efficacy and humaneness of the two pilot badger culls conducted in Somerset and Gloucestershire last year.

The IEP's report, containing recommendations for how the culls might be improved, and the Government's response to it, were published simultaneously on April 3. At the same time, Defra also published its strategy for achieving Officially Bovine TB-Free status for England (see p 367). Speaking in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State at Defra, Owen Paterson, said that the pilot culls would continue, but that, at present, there would be no wider roll out of the culling strategy.

‘The second year of culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset will start with the panel's recommended improvements in place,’ he said. ‘We will work with Natural England and the industry to implement the changes. The cull companies will adapt their operational plans to ensure better consistency of coverage in the cull areas. They will incorporate more extensive training and real-time monitoring of cull effectiveness and humaneness by Natural England. We know that there are many farming communities in other parts of England that want badger culls to help combat TB. I hope they will understand that we need to put these changes into practice before we roll out the culling programme to other areas.

‘The four-year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are pilots and we always expected to learn lessons from them,’ Mr Paterson said. ‘It is …

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