The government’s wildlife adviser, Natural England, has voiced doubts over the effectiveness of badger culling to control tuberculosis in cattle.
In its submission to a DEFRA consultation, Natural England says it has a “low level of confidence” that the disease could be tackled by culling badgers.
It states that although evidence from the Krebs’ culling trial suggested a reduction in bovine TB could be achieved, it doubts whether the benefits could be replicated consistently.
The doubt stemmed from a “lack of evidence that a farmer-led cull could replicate what had previously been undertaken by government officials.
Natural England also raises concerns over the impact of a cull on the long-term survival of badger populations.
It calculates that, although densities of badger numbers in some areas of the UK are the highest in Europe, populations could be hit so hard they would take decades to recover.
In its conclusions it urges long term, independent monitoring of a cull if it progresses beyond the pilot stage and limits of fewer than 10, to the number of licenses granted each year along with further restrictions to the size of badger control areas.