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PILOT badger culling operations in Somerset last year managed to remove more than the minimum number of animals specified by the licence conditions for the cull. However, culling operations in Gloucestershire failed to meet their target.
Results published by Defra on December 18 show that contractors in west Somerset culled 341 badgers against a minimum number of 316 and a maximum number of 785. In west Gloucestershire, a total of 274 badgers were culled against a minimum number of 615 and a maximum of 1091.
Of the badgers culled in Somerset, 147 were culled by controlled shooting and 194 were cage trapped before being killed. In Gloucestershire, 166 badgers were culled by controlled shooting and 108 were cage trapped and then killed.
The culls, which took place between September and October last year, were the second in a four-year pilot that is testing the efficacy, safety and humaneness of controlled shooting as a method of culling. A report on the first year of the culls by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) made clear that the panel believed that the pilot culls had failed in terms of efficacy and humaneness (VR, April 12, 2014, vol 174, pp 365-366). The IEP made a number of recommendations for how the culls could be improved.
In a report on the 2014 culls, Defra says that enhanced requirements for data on levels of effort were implemented, with the number of hours of contractor effort and the number of cage traps set being recorded on all accessible land parcels. It says that this allowed Natural England, which monitored the culls, to follow the progress made by each cull company and to assess whether enough resources were being deployed effectively.
Defra adds that, in …