Plea to protect Leicestershire's badgers
LEICESTERSHIRE Badger Watch are appealing to farmers to remain sensible after the first badger culling licence was granted yesterday, (Monday, September 17).
The licensing body, Natural England, said the cull could start very soon in Gloucestershire, where Bovine TB cases are high, while a second, for Somerset, is still being assessed.
The licenses will allow the shooting of up to 70 per cent of badgers in the pilot zones.
Pam Mynott of Leicestershire Badger Watch is opposed to the cull and fears some may see it as a green light to shoot badgers at will, despite it being illegal.
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And she added: "I think there will be a knock-on effect and a lot of people might think they can go out and illegally shoot badgers on their land.
"I would also like to point out that there has been no known cases of a badgers with bovine TB (bTB), in Leicestershire for more than two decades. We regularly send carcasses, found in the countryside, for testing and we have not had a positive one for more than thirty years."
"There is also the worry that if farmers attempt to discourage a population of badgers off their land other badger families may move in that are carrying bTB."
The cull is based on evidence which shows some wild badgers can become infected with bTB, and pass the infection on to cattle, which in turn ends with a farmer being forced to destroy their heard.
Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, which has a branch in Leicestershire, said: "The Wildlife Trusts are very conscious of the hardship that bTB causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer.
"Our involvement with this issue over a long period of time has led us to the conclusion that a sustained programme of vaccination, alongside improved biosecurity measures, would be the best means of tackling bTB.
"We will continue to press the Government to reject the badger cull and to push forward with badger vaccination.
"We will also continue to push the EU to change the rules to allow the cattle vaccine to be deployed once development is complete."
The badger cull will begin as soon as the company specially formed to carry out the shooting has confirmed the dates it will take place, the persons authorised to carry it out, that the necessary funds are in place, and the permitted number of badgers that will be subject to control operations.
These formal confirmations are expected to be completed within the next few weeks.