The controversial badger cull in England is underway for the first time in Dorset and has restarted for the third year in Gloucestershire and Somerset, the government has confirmed.
The cull, intended to curb tuberculosis in cattle, aims to kill 1,000-2,000 badgers over six weeks. Over 32,000 TB-infected cattle were slaughtered in 2014 and farmers welcomed the cull.
But previous badger culls have failed to meet targets, raising the risk that culling could actually increase TB infections in cattle as setts are disrupted and badgers roam more widely.
On Wednesday, senior scientists, including one appointed by the government to independently assess the cull, called for an end to the policy. The independent panel, now disbanded, found earlier culls were neither effective nor humane.
Claire Bass, of the Humane Society International/UK said the re-start of the cull was devastating news: “For a third year running these supposedly protected animals will be subjected to a cruel and pointless death, scapegoats of the government’s failed cattle TB policy. We will continue to campaign to end this inhumane and unscientific massacre.”