The Badger Trust has said plans to extend the badger culling period are illegal, in a letter sent to Natural England.
The pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire ended last week and Natural England is currently considering an application to extend the licence in the area.
The announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that only 30% of the relevant badger population had been killed within the six-week period in the pilot area. This falls short of the 70% minimum target that had previously been identified as “effective”, said the Badger Trust.
As a result, the organisation said that the cull has been shown “not to be effective”. It added, that it “would be unlawful for Natural England to grant the new licence now being sought”.
When environment secretary Owen Paterson was asked why the cull had failed to reach the target, he said that badgers had “moved the goalposts”. Despite the shortcomings of the pilot, Paterson still described the cull as a “success”.
In contrast, the RSPCA said the pilot in Gloucestershire was a “farce”.
Gavin Grant, chief executive at the RSPCA, said, “The situation was a farce before – but these new revelations about how off-target [the] Gloucestershire cull has been are even worse.
“The government is making a mockery of scientific opinion and their own targets by continuing with this cull – it’s a complete shambles.”
The controversial badger cull aimed to the stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB). However, the move was met with opposition claiming that the cull was inhumane and would not halt TB spreading.
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), previously defended the cull, saying, “While sad, these culls are absolutely necessary.”
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