After many studies and years of waiting, the long debated subject of badger culling is given the green light.
So why do badgers need to be culled? Last year alone, over 25,000 cattle were culled after failing the Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) test and the bill of £1 Billion over the next ten years will be bourn by the taxpayer. BTB is rampant in the West and South of England with at least 25% of all farms carrying the disease.
There will be two carefully controlled pilot schemes run over a controlled time period. The results will be monitored closely by DEFRA and panels of experts to ensure the cull is effective and humane. This will then be evaluated as to the outcome and if successful a wider plan will be implemented.
It is believed that the pilot schemes will be carried out in secret locations, and after the Olympic Games has happened, due to the possibility of civil unrest and the policing requirements as this is a highly charged and emotional topic.
Other alternative are also being considered like badger vaccination schemes, where badgers are caught in live traps by trained operatives (pest controllers are being asked to get trained in readiness for this) and the government has earmarked £250,000 for a trial scheme for this method. The Government has already spent £35 million on developing badger and cattle vaccines since 1994 and plan to spend another £20 million on the development of practical and usable vaccines over the next five years.
Whatever happens, the badger population will end up being reduced, especially in high BTB areas. I am sure this is not the last we will hear about this and so we will keep you informed as news breaks on this topic.
Ironically, DEFRA has just announced its plan for a National Badger Survey to happen in 2012/2013 to establish the exact number of badger in the UK. The last one was held in 1997 where the results showed a significant increase in the badger population.