A brief look at this weeks proposed Badger Cull.
This week sees the launch of a pilot scheme in Gloucestershire for Badger Culling and marks an important step in this contentious issue.
The proposed culling of badgers in this hot spot area of the UK is in an attempt to reduce the incidents of Bovine Tuberculosis amongst cattle. It is maintained by those in favour of the cull that Badgers are highly contagious carriers of TB and as a result of their numbers many cattle are infected with the disease.
If the pilot leads to a rolling out of the policy throughout the Uk it is expected that around 100,000 or a third of all badgers in the UK will need to be culled.
In 2011 26,000 cows were slaughtered as a result of the disease however there have been mixed results amongst previous localised tests into culling and many maintain that the cull will have no meaningful results in decreasing incidents of TB.
In the short term it is possible that localised pressure on the Badger population will cause them to migrate to other areas therefore causing a spread of the disease however Defra in conjunction with many British farmers feel that this is an important and necessary step in controlling incidents of TB.
Currently Natural England who are issuing the licences are issuing licences in the pilot areas to landowners and farmers who will undertake to cull 70% of badgers on their land four years in a row.
Unlike previous trials in which Badgers were trapped and then shot on this occasion the animals will be free shot during a defined 'open season'.
Time will tell if this approach will have any real effect on the disease however one thing is for sure it will continue to attract a huge amount of attention and strong feeling on both sides.
Nb 23/10/2012. Further to this posting in September 2012 a last minute reprieve for the Badger has meant that the proposed cull has in fact been delayed until at least the Summer of 2013.