Natural England issues first badger control licence

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The licence issued on 17 September is to permit the control of badgers in West Gloucestershire for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

Application for a licence was made by a specially formed company representing farming and land management interests covering approximately 300km2 and over 70% of the West Gloucestershire pilot area.

The press release from Natural England continues:

”Natural England has issued the licence having satisfied itself that the application meets the strict criteria set out in the Government’s bTB policy guidance, which specifies how control operations to prevent the spread of bTB can be carried out.

The licence: (click here to download) has a four year term and authorises control operations to be conducted within the West Gloucestershire pilot area over a continuous six week period each year over the next four years. No control operations can be carried out during specified close seasons.


Badgers in West Gloucestershire
– their days are numbered

Under the terms of the licence, and in accordance with the criteria specified in the bTB control policy, licensees will be authorised to reduce badger populations in the pilot area by at least 70% and maximum numbers will be specified to prevent the risk of local extinction.

Control operations can only commence once Natural England has formally confirmed with the Licensee the specific dates when these operations will take place, the persons authorised to carry them out, confirmation 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.

Natural England is continuing to assess a separate licence application relating to the West Somerset pilot area and will look to issue the licence as soon as possible after it is satisfied that the application has met the criteria in the bTB policy guidance.”

Battle lines drawn
Battle lines are increasingly being drawn on this highly contentious issue. Those who open the licence itself will see it has been redacted (all location & name details obscured).

A compelling five-minute video called Kill the Cull, Not the Badgers has just been launched as part of the Humane Society International (HSI) UK”s campaign to stop the proposed slaughter of English badgers.

In the film Chris Cheeseman, former head of wildlife diseases at the Central Science Laboratory, joins naturalist and broadcaster Bill Oddie, veterinarian and UK director of HSI, Mark Jones, as well as deputy head of the RSPCA”s Wildlife Science Department, Colin Booty.

To view the film click here

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