Although a 10 year study concluded that “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control”, the government plans to license the shooting of thousands of badgers. Keeping culling locations secret will risk night-shooting fatalities, against all professional safety advice.
Following a ten year study in which 10,000 badgers were trapped and culled to establish whether localised culling can reduce bTB, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) concluded that ‘badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain’. But the government are ignoring this and planning a new cull in favour of the powerful farming lobby whose cattle, and profits, will not benefit in any way.
If the trials go ahead then shooting will start this autumn over six weeks in two areas: the first in west Somerset, partly in Taunton Deane, and the second within the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury, and in the districts of Wychavon, Malvern Hills and west Gloucestershire.
Shooting or "lamping" will take place at night by trained marksmen using high-powered rifles. Their remit will be to kill at least 70% of the badgers in each of the trial areas. The killing will be non-selective, but the majority of those killed will be healthy, and of the small number of badgers that may be carrying bovine TB very few will be infectious.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC)'s "best practice" advises anyone going "lamping" should "inform local residents where you will be shooting together with approximate starting and finishing times." However it's very unlikely that they will do so, to prevent protesters and potential cull saboteurs engaging in any effective campaigning.
How long will it be before it's not only innocent and unnecessarily targeted badgers that are in the NFU's high-powered rifles' nightsights?