Tuesday, 13 July 2021 22:28

Riflemen target 2,632 badgers across Wiltshire in latest cull Featured

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CONTRACTORS armed with rifles in Wiltshire have been given a new supplementary licence to kill up to 2,632 badgers.

During the next six and a half months they will try to kill as many as they can under the latest Government bovine TB regulations.

They are being allowed by Natural England to cull badgers in areas 19-21, covering north, south and central Wiltshire, up to January 31.

Wiltshire Badger Group says the minimum number they have been licensed to shoot is 568 and the maximum 2,632 under the new 12-month licence.

Wiltshire Badger Group warned people walking in the late evening and at night-time to beware of cull shooters.

A spokesman said: “In Wiltshire, three of the county's older 'cull zones' have recently been issued new supplementary licences to carry out culling between June 1 and January 31.

"Unlike previous licences, this licence does away with the safety requirement of cull operatives (paid contractors with rifles) to be assisted by a buddy who acts as a spotter.

"As well as increasing the risk for injured badgers, this is also public safety issue and the public are not told when or where these operatives will be live firing.

"People should also be aware this firing also occurs across public footpaths without any warning."

He added: "Badgers have for many years been the scapegoat for Bovine TB. For 30 years attempts have been made to prove that badgers are the cause of TB in cattle, but no proof has been forthcoming.

“The Wiltshire Badger Group deplores this unnecessary slaughter of badgers and urges the Government to carry out its testing using badgers killed on the roads and not add to this carnage.

“The huge amounts of money being spent killing badgers would be much better spent helping farmers by developing a vaccination for cattle and preventing the spread of TB through cattle movements.

"Since the cull began, around 140,000 badgers have been slaughtered under licence in this senseless and unscientific cull.

"The government have made repeated promises to move away from culling as a means to control Bovine TB, which is very much a dairy industry problem in which wildlife are being scapegoated."

The cull across the South West could see more than 14,000 badgers being trapped, shot or poisoned in parts of Wiltshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Avon and Somerset. In last year’s cull, 29,884 out of a maximum 38,642 badgers were reported to have been killed.

Dawn Varley, acting chief executive officer of The Badger Trust, also warned that contractors and marksmen armed with guns would be roaming huge areas of the countryside at night during the cull period.

“Besides the public safety risk, we believe the public would be appalled at the level of suffering inflicted on badgers, many of whom will not be shot and killed outright.”

She estimates that a further 70,000 badgers are likely to be killed in September and October when the intensive cull season begins.

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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