No date set for possible badger cull in Cheshire, says government official

Rumours that a badger cull could start in Cheshire next month have been denied by government officials. A spoke person for the Department of the Environment said it was still in the process of determining where any culls might take place, and as yet, no firm date had been set. Robyn Blythe from Cheshire Against the Badger Cull had contacted the Guardian claiming around 1,000 badgers could be killed in a cull that was expected to start in September.

Martin Varley, director of conservation at Cheshire Wildlife Trust said he had taken up the issue of culling with government officials but as yet had had no firm answers. He explained: "We have been in conversation with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural England to find out if this is the case. Neither organisation has been able to confirm that a cull will take place in our county but we will continue to press them for an answer.

 

“As the local trust, we hope that there won’t be a cull in this region. Whilst we are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB causes in the farming community we remain firmly opposed to the government’s continued strategy of putting badger culling at the heart of efforts to tackle the disease. We do not believe that a cull is the answer. “Previous culls have failed and scientific evidence indicates that culling is unlikely to make a significant improvement in cattle infection rates. It is also not known what proportion of this disease in cattle arises from badgers. "Our view is it is better to concentrate on vaccination of cattle in the long-term, and increased biosecurity on land and the vaccination of badgers in the short-term as more effective means of control. 

 

 

Badgers and their setts are legally protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. He added: "If a cull is announced we will not be giving permission for it to take place on our reserves. We won’t give support to groups who are prepared to act outside the law, but we are encouraging people to support and volunteer with Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group who have an ongoing badger vaccination programme.”

 

Robyn from Cheshire Against the Badger Cull said: "We have been speaking with various people including police officers who have told us that a cull will start at the beginning of September. "It has been shown that by having these culls just makes the problem even worse given that badgers who survive will disperse to an even wider area."

 

The spokesman at the Department of the Environment said: "Natural England is currently considering applications for further badger control licences as part of the usual licensing process. "There is no set date for when the outcome of these applications will be announced."

Credit  Josh Pennington