The Government announced yesterday that the planned pilot cull of badgers, postponed last summer following mass opposition and organisational failures, is due to begin in June 2013.

Network for Animals heard the news while out on the streets at the National Badger Cull Protest in Birmingham, where it was met with widespread disbelief and sadness.

The pilot cull is set to go ahead in line with the original plans in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire with Dorset now lined up as a reserve area.  Shooters will lure badgers to bait points nightly for a six week period, during which time they will be shot under the cover of darkness in secret locations by armed marksmen using high velocity rifles. This process will be repeated annually for four years with 70% of badgers in the cull areas needing to be culled to reach the targets for success. 

Opposition from the scientific and animal welfare communities has been present throughout the campaign, with eminent scientists criticising the lack of evidence for the Government's solution for solving the problem of TB in cattle.  Following a huge public outcry last year MPs voted convincingly against the badger cull following a heated parliamentary debate, meaning the latest news from Owen Paterson is at odds with the views of Parliament in addition to thousands of members of the general public.

Brian Davies, Founder of Network for Animals, said, “The Government are ploughing ahead with their inhumane and impractical approach of shooting badgers despite a fundamental lack of evidence.  The vested interests of the farming lobby and the desire for a quick-fix solution comes at a great cost to English wildlife.”

Network for Animals is calling on supporters to contact their MP and write to Owen Paterson about the badger cull and join our call for a sustainable and humane solution to the problem of TB in cattle. Effective biosecurity, improved cattle welfare and vaccination are the only effective long-term solutions avaialble for tackling this disease.

It's time to stop shooting in the dark and work towards a real solution.