Hayle MP George Eustice defends aborted badger cull trial
HAYLE MP and Farming Minister George Eustice has defended the Government’s badger cull despite a trial being called off amid jubilation from opponents.
The news will be welcomed in some in west Cornwall where MP Andrew George has backed a trial badger inoculation programme designed both to counter the cull and to save Penwith’s badgers from being subject to it.
The pilot cull in Gloucestershire was designed to prove the theory that shooting badgers would stop TB spreading to valuable cattle in farming areas.
It will now end three weeks early after officials admitted they couldn’t hit targets even after they were significantly reduced.
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Culling ended today after contractors told Natural England that a significant reduction in badger numbers by December 18, when shooting was due to end, was "unlikely".
The controversial cull, along with another in Somerset, was initially scheduled to last six weeks and was aimed at reducing local badger populations by 70 per cent.
During that time just 30 per cent of badgers in Gloucestershire were killed, leading to an eight week extension and a lowering of the culling target to 58 per cent.
Five weeks into the extended period, Natural England announced an abrupt end to culling because there is "no realistic prospect of the cull removing the number of badgers required by the licence".
Marksmen have failed to meet their kill targets every night they have been out and on some nights failed to kill a single badger, according to The Guardian.
But Mr Eustice, whose family farm near Hayle, said: “The extension to the cull has been worthwhile and has removed a significant number of badgers which will make a difference to disease control in the area," he said.
"Now that the cull company is seeing fewer badgers on the ground I agree with the decision to stop the pilot cull for this year and I pay tribute to all those who in the face of provocation have worked so hard."
Mark Jones of Humane Society International UK said: "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."
David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, said: "The Government should now admit the trials have failed and halt any plans to roll this cull out to other areas.
“It could not be clearer that this trial cull has not worked and it would be complete madness to continue along this misguided path.”
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, said the cull had been carried out safely and humanely despite "intense provocation and intimidation by some anti-cull protesters".