West Somerset badger cull pilot completed

The first of two pilot badger culls to combat bovine tuberculosis in cattle is believed to have finished.

The six-week cull in west Somerset – aimed at finding out whether shooting is a humane, safe and effective of killing badgers – is believed to have finished on Sunday (6 October).

Badgers are being culled in two areas of south-west England as part of a 25-year government plan to eradicate bovine TB.

A second cull, in west Gloucestershire, is due to finish later this month.

An independent panel of experts appointed by DEFRA will assess the cull results and report their findings to ministers.

Feedback from observers in pilot zones will be used to help assess whether culling is safe and consider whether any amendments are needed to training and best practice guidance.

Post-mortems are being carried out on a random selection of badger carcasses.

After assessing the results, DEFRA will decide whether to roll out the cull to a maximum of 10 other areas during 2014.

DEFRA has also put in place arrangements to monitor the effects of the policy on disease incidence in cattle in the two zones.

These monitoring arrangements will apply in both the pilot areas and in other areas if the policy is rolled out more widely.

The department has also been looking at gassing badger setts as a control method.

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