Badger cull to end as targets missed

badgerNatural England said there was “no realistic prospect” of the cull meeting its target

The badger cull in Gloucestershire is being called off because not enough animals have been killed to meet targets.

The licence has been revoked by Natural England and the cull will end at 12:00 GMT on Saturday, a spokesman said.

An eight-week extension to the original six-week trial was due to end on 18 December.

Farming Minister George Eustice said the extension to the cull had been “worthwhile”.

It is not yet known how many badgers have been killed during the extension period.

The pilot scheme was extended after marksmen killed only 708 badgers, about 30% of the local badger population. The target had been 70%.

Natural England said it had pulled the plug as the cull was set to miss a revised target of 58%.

A spokesman said: “There is no realistic prospect of the cull removing the number of badgers required by the licence, it has been discussed and agreed by Natural England that the cull will end at 12 noon tomorrow.”

In October, Natural England granted an eight-week extension to the cull after fewer animals than the original target were killed during the initial six-week period.

Cull ‘fiasco’

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

A similar cull pilot in Somerset ended last month after it also failed to meet its target even after a three-week extension.

In that area there was an estimated 65% reduction in the badger population – the target was 70%.

Mr Eustice said the extension to the cull had “removed a significant number of badgers which will make a difference to disease control in the area”.

Mark Jones from Humane Society International (HSI) UK said he was “relieved” that “at long last some common sense is being applied and the government’s badger cull fiasco will finally be over for the timebeing at least”.

“In the face of what has been the dismal failure of this policy, we commend Natural England for making the sensible decision to revoke the cull licence,” he added.

“They should have acted sooner and it is deeply regrettable that hundreds of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset have already paid for this ill-conceived policy with their lives.”

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