More than 3,500 badgers culled in areas overlapping East Devon, FOI reveals

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 October 2019

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More than 3,500 badgers were killed last year during control operations conducted in three areas which overlap East Devon.

In Devon, more than 9,000 were killed in Devon over the course of two months in autumn 2018 according to a report by the Department for Environment, Food and Affairs (Defra).

A freedom of information request made to Natural England has revealed three of the 30 cull areas overlapped East Devon.

A total of 3,549 badgers were killed in those zones.

In one cull area, which includes the Exeter, West Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and East Devon districts, 444 were killed, with 249 by controlled shooting and 195 by cage-trapping.

Another cull area, which overlaps South Somerset, East Devon, West Dorset and Exeter, 2,238 were killed with 1,271 by shooting with 967 trapped using cages.

A third cull area, which includes Exeter, East Devon and Mid Devon, had a total of 867 badger killings with 485 by controlled shooting and 382 by cage-trapping.

In the Defra report, Natural England chief scientist Tim Hill said the operations indicate that 'industry-led badger control continues to deliver the level of effectiveness required by the policy to be confident of achieving disease control benefits'.

But new research suggests badger culling could actually be making the problem of tuberculosis in cattle worse.

A study done by researchers from the Zoological Society of London and Imperial College London indicates culling drives the surviving badgers to 61 per cent more land each month than before the cull began.

Lead author Cally Harn said: "Because culling partly relies on shooting badgers moving around at night, the fact that badgers were active for fewer hours per night could actually be undermining culling efforts to further control badger numbers."

A Defra spokesman said: "Bovine TB remains the greatest animal health threat to the UK, costing taxpayers over £100 million every year as well as causing devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities.

"There is no single measure that will provide an easy answer to beating the disease and we are pursuing a range of interventions to eradicate it by 2038, including tighter cattle movement controls, regular testing and vaccinations."

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