The controversial pilot badger culls carried out in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset last year were inhumane and ineffective, new analysis has found.
According to reports from independent experts commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and obtained by the Guardian and the BBC, culls in England aimed at limit the spread of TB in cattle did not kill enough badgers to have the desired effect.
It has also been revealed that a significant number of badgers were not shot cleanly, with up to 18% of culled badgers taking longer than five minutes to die
Prof Rosie Woodroffe, a scientist at the Zoological Society of London, said that the panel’s “findings show unequivocally that the culls were not effective and that they failed to meet the humaneness criteria”.
“I hope this will lead to the secretary of state [Owen Paterson] to focus on other ways of eradicating TB in cattle”, such as vaccination, she told the BBC.
Meanwhile, a Defra spokesman said, “We knew there’d be lessons to be learned from the first year of the pilot culls which is why we’re looking forward to receiving the panel’s recommendations for improving the way they are carried out, because we need to do all we can to tackle this devastating disease.”
Marksmen had been contracted to hunt the animals at night, with the aim of killing at least 70% in cull areas within a six-week period. However, the cull fell short of its target by at least 50%.
The failed cull cost £7.29m, according to the charity Care for the Wild.