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Network for Animals are horrified by the announcement that today, the 2014 Badger Cull has been given the go ahead by Natural England. The government department have requested that this year between 615 and 1091 badgers must be killed in Gloucestershire, and between 316 and 785 in Somerset.

This news comes just days after the Badger Trust's high court challenge against a 2014 cull, and prior to a judgement being made, which has every possibility of declaring a 2014 cull unlawful.

As shooting may begin at any point in the next few weeks, We ask our supporters today to do three things:

1. Voice your concern to British Environment Minister Elizabeth Truss: She is the person ultimately responsible for the killing of up to 1876 badgers this year.

2. If you are willing and able to take a hands on role in Wounded Badger Patrols, please make immediate contact with our Team Badger colleagues in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

3. Please share this shocking news with your friends, colleagues and family: http://bit.ly/1teoypl

Learn more about the cull from this news piece: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04fcq5r/bbc-points-west-27082014

In the words of Badger Trust CEO Dominic Dyer:

"As we speak, the High Court is still contemplating the Badger Trust legal challenge against the cull, so I consider Natural England have jumped the gun.   At the same time, there is now a criminal investigation taking place by the police regarding reports of contractors who stalked badgers with loaded weapons on a golf course and close to residential housing.  In the circumstances I fail to understand why the government feels it is acceptable to re-start the culls while these issues are unanswered. Confidence in the ability of badger culling to actually solve the problem of bTB was already low, but recently it has also collapsed in terms of humaneness and of public safety.  It is now an utter shambles but it is apparent that there is a determination to proceed, come what may.

"Meanwhile in Wales, they have reduced bovine TB by 50% in five years, a figure farmers in England would be ecstatic about. But this has taken place without a badger cull, with the emphasis on farming measures and, crucially, annual testing of cattle - because you cannot beat the disease if you do not know how many cows have bTB. The Welsh government have made it clear that this is the reason for their success - but the National Farmers' Union here in England refuse to do annual testing because they claim it costs too much. Yet they were prepared to spend £10m last year on killing 1861 badgers, and they are about to do the same again. It is a failure of judgement, a failed policy and it will fail their own members, the farmers who desperately need an effective solution."

"The number of badgers to be killed also raises concerns, said Dyer, both because of the way numbers were counted last year, and also because of the alleged falsification of hair trap data (used to count the number of badgers) by AHVLA contractors last year - a story recently reported in the Sunday Times.

"Last year, the government estimated the total number of badgers in the two areas completely incorrectly - that is what led to Owen Paterson claiming the badgers had moved the goalposts. So how are we supposed to have any confidence that they have the numbers right this year? The number to be shot will be a percentage of the total number in the area - but if they have that wrong again, there is a danger of causing local extinctions. Ultimately though, these are sentient animals that are being slaughtered for a policy that simply will not work."


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