People with guns have been out shooting badgers (Meles meles) in Gloucestershire. This was one of the ‘pilot culls’ supposed to get rid of some of the badgers which, say some, are a reservoir of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis which causes bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
This pilot cull didn’t work out as planned, says Philip Case at Farmers Weekly. In fact, it will end tomorrow. As I write this, darkness has fallen and the nocturnal badgers will be out getting shot. After that, no more in that particular place. Why? Because there didn’t turn out to be so many badgers as expected. Oops.
The badger-culling story isn’t over. Our Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) still aims to eradicate bTB in Britain. Shooting badgers is just part of a ‘raft of measures’ towards that goal. I told you yesterday about more bTB announcements from DEFRA. Carefully timed, I think. This is politics.
We look forward to what Owen Paterson, head of DEFRA, will tell us on Monday about what has happened in Gloucestershire. And what he wants to make happen next.
[Edit] Damian Carrington at the Guardian tells us that the culling licence has been revoked. That contradicts what Mr Case said in Farmers Weekly. Meanwhile Peter Kendall, President of the National Farmers Union, tells us that now is a ‘sensible time to bring operations to a close for this year.’ For *this* year. What will happen next?