‘Badger culls were an epic failure’

David Macdonald

David Macdonald

First published in News

THE badger culls were a failure of epic proportions, according to an Oxford University academic who played a part in authorising them.

Last year two trials were given the go-ahead by public body Natural England, which reports to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in Somerset and West Gloucestershire.

They were estimated to have killed 65 per cent and 39 per cent of badger populations in each area, respectively.

But now the scientist who is the chairman of Natural England’s scientific advisory board has hit out at the trials.

Prof David Macdonald, in a report for the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, said: “Even after extensions they killed only 65 per cent and 39 per cent, the latter of which in Gloucestershire approximates the worst possible outcome.

“Following this epic failure it is hard to see how continuing this approach could be justified.”

His comments are embarassing for Natural England and the Government, which continue to back plans to carry out further culls later this year as part of a four-year programme aimed at eradicating TB in cattle.

In December, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson claimed the decision to extend the cull had “been shown to be the right one”.

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