Badger control measures authorised in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset
Natural England today confirmed that all the criteria have been met to allow the second of four years of badger culling to start in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis.
Operations in these areas where TB is rife will be carried out under the existing four-year licences which allow six weeks of culling to take place every year between 1 June and 31 January. Start dates for culling activity will be decided by the licensed companies.
Under the terms of the authorisation letters, licensees have been set a minimum number of badgers to be removed - these are 615 in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset. A maximum number of badgers has also been set (1091 in Gloucestershire, 785 in Somerset) to safeguard the local populations.
Natural England has worked closely together with Defra and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency to develop a robust monitoring regime for this year's culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
A Government-approved training programme has been put in place to improve shooting accuracy. Natural England will monitor controlled shooting through field observations to record accuracy in 60 cases.
Vets from AHVLA will carry out post-mortem examinations on at least 60 randomly-selected badgers from each cull area to assess accuracy of controlled shooting. These measures have been put in place to implement the recommendations made by the Independent Experts Panel following last year's pilots.