Wildlife Reservoirs, is the badger a costly distraction, a scapegoat ...?
22 Jul 2010, 6:43 PM
Prof John Bourne, who conducted the infamous ten year, government-funded study which showed that badger killing is a waste of time and money, recalled what he was told by a senior politician:
"Fine, John, we accept your science, but we have to offer farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers."
This strand on the forum deals mainly with the wildlife reservoirs involved in the bovine TB saga. In the UK this is, as we are probably all aware by now, believed to be mainly the badger. No other mammal has been studied in the UK as intensely as the badger so actually we don't really know just how other animals are implicated. In other countries different species are implicated. There are some anomalies too, including the example below.
Has anyone an explanation for the following!
According to last issue of Gwlad, Australia is now bTB free after 27 years of trying. We are told it has no wildlife reservoir. New Zealand is still aiming for eradication. It has a wildlife reservoir - possums - which are considered a pest species as not indigenous so are being culled - and vaccinated!
HOWEVER - possums ARE native to Australia and bTB was rife in country for years so - why are the Australian possums not a reservoir?
12 Sep 2013, 6:22 PM
The Guardian' video is worth watching at: www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2013/sep/12/badger-cull-somerset-video
It demonstrates just how shrouded in secrecy the current culling procedures are - and the other issues too are included; locals claiming intimidation, peaceful protestors, those intent on stopping the cull - what is very clear is that those who are against the cull are prepared to be open and speak out, unlike those who are doing the culling. Police are everywhere, challenging protestors on occasions and protecting the marksmen - all very sinister and not democratic was how it was all described by the Guardian journalist involved ...
12 Sep 2013, 6:05 PM
Despite claims that the “ravage” of bovine tuberculosis is rising out of control the latest official figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reveal a significant fall in the number of cattle slaughtered in both Cornwall and Devon over the first six months of this year: 13% to 1,353 in Cornwall and by 16%t to 2,683 in Devon.
Nationally, the number of cattle slaughtered during the period (for which compensation is paid) was down by almost 1,000 to 17,285 (5.3%). However, only increases in the number of herds affected are quoted by politicians, officials and the industry without acknowledgement of the improving cattle figures.
12 Sep 2013, 5:38 PM
The Western Daily News is reporting this morning that 'well below' 100 badgers have been killed in the Somerset Cull Zone to date and the Editor has apparently confirmed this is based on a very reliable senior DEFRA source. One well-placed source told the Western Morning News: “They are having major problems. Only three or four badgers are being shot every day. It is just a case now of who gets the blame for the whole thing failing.” In a written statement to the Commons only last week, Mr Paterson said: “I understand the pilot cull is proceeding to plan and those involved are pleased with progress to date.”
To get any where near their kill numbers the shooters should have killed well over 1500 badgers by now (around 50 a day).
This shows that free shooting is turning into a disaster - one estimate of all police & civil servant costs to date estimates that each badger killed is therefore costing tax payers a whopping £10,000 each
Owen Paterson is stuck in a nightmare scenario promoting the most expensive wildlife cull in history.
If targets were not met the Government has said it would insist on farmers’ organisations paying for cage trapping and shooting – likely to be ten times as expensive – over the full four-year culling programme.
12 Sep 2013, 9:23 AM
Defra has not been honest on badgers. 'The department has ignored scientific evidence and hidden its own findings to justify culling the animals', says Caroline Allen, a veterinary surgeon and Green Party national spokeswoman on animal issues. (http://morningstaronline.co.uk/d2e1dd-defra-has-not-been-honest-on-badgers#.Ui266H-Gf4S)
The government and the National Farmers Union claim that killing badgers is required to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Many independent scientists, naturalists, animal welfare and conservation organisations do not agree.
The pilots are supposed to determine whether cull targets can be met within six weeks and at least 70 per cent of the badger population removed from each cull area.
They are also meant to work out whether shooting free-running badgers at night is a humane way of killing them.
If the pilots are deemed a success the programme will expand with the aim of killing up to 130,000 badgers.
So what are the facts?
Bovine TB is a disease of cattle which can affect a number of other animals, of which badgers are one.
There is no doubting the distress this disease causes farmers or the high cost incurred by culling infected cattle — much of which is borne by the taxpayer.
But there is a serious body of evidence that the badger cull will be ineffective in controlling the disease and that the large sums of money being spent would be better used on other measures such as improving TB testing in cattle, developing better vaccinations for both cattle and badgers and improving biosecurity on farms.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial, an experiment into badger culling as a preventative measure run between 1998 and 2005, was set by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and cost £50 million.
It concluded that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB.”
It also concluded that other approaches to culling were, at best, going to give only slightly better results and, at worst, would have a detrimental effect.
The form this particular cull takes — shooting badgers — could even increase the incidence of TB by encouraging badger movements into neighbouring areas and then back again.
The examples from other countries used by Defra supposedly to show that culls can be successful have been criticised as other factors, such as new movement controls on cattle, could also account for the reported reductions in bTB.
Even setting aside these scientific objections in order for culling to have any hope of “success” enormous areas — at least 150 square kilometres — need to be covered.
The culls have to be sustained in such areas for at least four years and at least 70 per cent of the land must remain accessible.
This is a massive undertaking. Considering that success, as admitted by Defra’s chief vet, would be defined as a reduction in bTB of around 15 per cent — so leaving 85 per cent of the disease untouched — it seems that efforts would be much better directed elsewhere.
There are also real concerns about the methods by which humaneness is being measured in these pilots, one of the key things they are supposed to assess.
Defra has not explained how it is going to collect and analyse the data.
A heavily redacted document was released following pressure from campaigners, which suggested that the noises made by shot badgers would be comparable to those made by harpooned whales.
Nor was any information about how wounded animals that retreat underground to die from infection or starvation would be considered in the humaneness assessment.
The anatomy of the badger means that free shooting carries a very high risk of leaving badgers wounded and in pain.
The Information Commissioner has ruled that Defra was wrong to hide behind Environmental Information Regulations in refusing to disclose further information about humaneness assessments, and the department now has a short period in which to appeal or produce this information.
Finally there is the ethical question of how we treat our indigenous wildlife.
The removal of up to 130,000 badgers will have a dramatic effect on local populations, with badgers possibly cleared from some areas.
Many people are joining peaceful protests in the cull areas, dismayed by the way the government has ignored scientific and ethical concerns.
Campaigners will be watching the results of these pilots closely.
Confidence in Defra to carry out a proper and accurate assessment remains low and the government’s rhetoric suggests it sees wider culling as the answer, regardless of what the pilots reveal.
Continued pressure on the organisations involved to encourage proper consideration of alternative strategies to tackle bTB is vital.
11 Sep 2013, 4:45 PM
Multi million bovine TB bill? It’s mostly down to farmers, says the Badger Trust in its latest press release.
The Government needs to come clean about the costs and the causes of bovine TB, says the Badger Trust.
Every Coalition announcement attempting to justify the slaughter of thousands of badgers comes with a warning…”in the last 10 years the disease cost the taxpayer £500 million and it is estimated that it will rise to £1 billion if the disease is left unchecked.”
The inference, always, is that badgers are to blame. In reality, says the Trust, most of the costs—some might argue, all of the costs--can be put down to cattle mismanagement, cattle-to-cattle transmission, recurring cattle-to-badger infection and Defra’s lamentable failure to introduce much needed cattle-based measures early enough.
In an attempt to justify this unscientific, widely criticised and inhumane cull the public is being deliberately misled, says the Trust.
On Defra’s own forecasts the proposed slaughter will reduce bovine TB by only 12-16 per cent over nine years. Self evidently that means the huge annual compensation bill is caused primarily not by badgers but by cattle and the way they are farmed, housed, tested and moved around the country, often from farms in TB hotspots with a very poor TB history.
Simple arithmetic would suggest therefore that by Defra’s own admission at least £400 million--four fifths of that £500 million figure-- was directly attributable to cattle and to their own weak management of this highly infectious bovine disease. But as there is a strong argument that most badgers are infected by cattle, then farms, farming and Defra must jointly take the blame for the bulk or all of the cost.
The projected and much trumpeted £1billion cost over the next decade “if nothing is done” is another red herring, says the Trust. Belatedly Owen Paterson’s department –roundly criticised in an EU audit of its bTB measures--has been introducing tougher measures to control cattle-to-cattle infection. “Clearly they will impact on the disease and reduce compensation costs to the taxpayer. Bovine TB figures were lower for the three years up to the end of 2012 and this year has brought encouraging signs that the latest improved cattle measures are helping to further control the disease.
“So we say: stop misleading the public. Own up. Apportion bTB costs where they belong. Stop using the badger as your scapegoat. Stop this cynical, politically motivated maiming and destruction of wildlife. Listen to the public and to independent scientists and take note of that record-breaking 300,000-plus anti-cull e-petition.”
It asks the government to 'Stop the badger cull NOW' because it is not humane and sets out the reasons.
The previous, now closed, government e petition urging the government to stop the badger cull closed with a whopping 303,848 signatories. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257 The petition has the largest ever number of signatures yet has been completely ignored by the government.
11 Sep 2013, 1:46 PM
An extremely interesting video of a very eloquent and passionate speech by Dominic Dyer at the Somerset protest march against the cull. He was involved with the original culling projects and is clearly very well informed as well as a fantastic ambassador for wildlife. He has been campaigning against the cull for the last year and is adamant it will not solve the bTB problems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mxVO4-U3EU
Some interesting reports and videos from ITV about the current culling and opposition: www.itv.com/news/westcountry/story/2013-08-21/west-country-badger-cull/?dm_i=1NFN%2C1TMK1%2C906L7E%2C6IU31%2C1
9 Sep 2013, 3:36 PM
Paterson: more desperate with every passing day, says the Badger Trust in its latest Press release.
Owen Paterson’s justifications for the badger culls are becoming increasingly desperate and unsustainable by the day as the anti-cull e-petition becomes the first ever to top 300,000, with signatures arriving at up to 450 in one hour, says the Badger Trust.
In recent television broadcasts the Secretary of State for the Environment has claimed that without the culls there could be no cattle industry ten years from now. Yet the worst bovine TB (bTB) losses are from cattle-to-cattle transmission and at best he can forecast only a 12-16 per cent net reduction over nine years from an unprecedented planned badger slaughter. In addition cattle losses from mastitis, lameness and infertility are at least ten times the numbers lost through bTB (1).
He claims “no-one wants to kill badgers” but admits he would like to see their legal protection removed which would open the floodgates to criminal cruelty.
He would have the public believe that badgers are dying horrible deaths. “Come with me to North Shropshire and see for yourself,” he told BBC Midlands viewers this week. Yet, thanks to years of careful research by his own scientific team at Fera the fact is that bTB in badgers is rarely fatal, that generally they survive well and breed successfully. We know, too, that disease prevalence in badgers—as low as one in seven in TB hotspots—can increase after a cull. So much for his killer cure.
Repeatedly he says we want to see healthy badgers alongside healthy cattle—yet he wants to eliminate as many as 130,000, most of them disease free.
“The truth is that the public are being constantly and deliberately misled,” says Badger Trust chairman David Williams. “The planned culls will do little to solve a problem caused by decades of cattle mismanagement and the reluctance of governments to enforce a range of cattle-based measures recommended as far back as 2007 by the Independent Scientific Group. Only now, at the insistence of the EU, are they being imposed decades after the devastating rise in bTB began in the 1990s.
“An obsession with the alleged role of badgers and stubborn reluctance rigorously to enforce more sensitive testing, on-farm disease prevention measures, and much tighter controls over cattle movements are the true causes of bTB spread.”
NOTES  The Kite’s Health and Culling Monitor gathered data from 2007 and 2008 and covered 58,210 cows in 322 herds.
9 Sep 2013, 3:09 PM
Rethink Bovine TB is encouraging people to tweet their MP to ask "why are DEFRA not testing culled badgers for Bovine Tb". They wonder if Defra is scared of the result? By not testing they are failing to assess what could be very valuable research to determine just how useful culling really is.
The Sunday Times (/www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Environment/article1310810.ece?CMP=OTH-gnws-standard-2013_09_07) has reported that Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, has warned that the sheer scale of the area where bTB is now endemic, covering most of southwest England, is so great that halting the disease by culling cattle and badgers, the key elements of the government’s strategy, was unlikely to succeed.
Donnelly worked on the government’s 1990s badger culling research project, which concluded that about half the cattle infected with bTB in badly affected areas were getting it from badgers. But predictions based on that study suggest that wiping out 70% of badgers in such zones would reduce infection rates by only 16%.
We need to be able to vaccinate cattle.
8 Sep 2013, 2:11 PM
Interesting article today by the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23991716 estimating that the police costs alone re the current badger culling estimated at £2m in each area over the four years they are due to run - is expected to eclipse the cost of the actual culls and the government is STILL considering rolling out culling to many other parts of the UK from next year!
There is even dispute among different experts over whether the culling trials will have any impact on the spread of TB in cattle.
"As far as badger culling is concerned it has nothing to offer in terms of controlling TB in cattle, and could indeed make the situation worse". That was the emphatic, and damning, conclusion reached by Professor John Bourne, the man charged with assessing the biggest and most comprehensive scientific experiment ever conducted in the British countryside - the Randomised Badger Culling Trial, or RBCT, in June 2007.
Devised by Sir John, now Lord, Krebs in 1996, the RBCT involved the slaughter of thousands of badgers between 1997 and 2007 at a cost of some £50 million. who designed a £50m scientific study into the effects of culling. He is adamant badger culling would not have a significant impact in the long run, saying it smacks of fitting the facts to the answer you want to achieve in the first place. "I have to say I've not found any scientists who are experts in population biology or the distribution of infectious disease in wildlife who think that culling is a good idea. People seem to have cherry picked certain results to try and get the argument they want."
Just as we have always predicted - culling badgers (and cattle) makes no sense when a vaccination IS available for cattle. It just cannot be used as Defra has been so inefficient at dealing with the necessary implications under EU legislations.
7 Sep 2013, 6:10 PM
The government e petition urging the government to stop the badger cull closed today with a whopping 303,436 signatories. http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257 The petition has the largest ever number of signatures yet has been completely ignored.
Email from a farmer in a bTB hot spot area (1/9/13):
Our holding has sadly lost it's 'never restricted' status after all these years. We're trying to retire but we've still got 120 acres grass & good buildings so we agreed last year with some cattle owners that they could bring some of their stores to graze & over winter in our buildings. The stores were still here when our annual test came round earlier this year & 2 of them reacted. The slaughterhouse confirmed they had lesions so, on this occasion, the test was accurate. The rest of them were all close to being finished anyway so they all went off for slaughter not long after & we haven't restocked. We've still got sheep to eat the grass so we'll stick at that for time being.
Now it's interesting to note that the cattle got moved in from another county last year, before the changes to the move regs that were enforced in Jan 13, so they came from what was a 4 year testing interval area which didn't need pre-movement testing at that time - and they didn't bring any badgers with them!!
It's reasonable to assume that, had they been pre-move tested - which they would have to be now - there's a good chance they would not have been able to move to us in the first place.
Possibly this is a good example of how easily the infection has been moved around the country in cattle and why the changes to the move regs enforced in Jan 13 will have a significant impact by limiting cross-infection with much more pre-movement testing. It's certainly unscientific for the gov to be killing large numbers of badgers now before they have allowed enough time to pass to judge the impact of these significant changes to movement rules.
Mr Heath misled Adrian Sanders MP in a written response on 2nd Sept. Mr Sanders asked Mr Heath why DEFRA had heavily redacted a document about assessing badger cull suffering before releasing it to Humane Society International/UK for public distribution. Mr Heath stated: 'Not doing so could adversely affect public safety and/or damage the environment. Non-disclosure of information in this manner is permitted and is in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations, which include specific exceptions.'
In fact, the assessment of badger suffering was ordered to be released last month. That was the decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office, which in a decision dated 6th August had found that DEFRA was wrong to apply the Environmental Information Regulations in defence of its refusal to disclose. Mr Heath should have been fully aware of this at the time of his response....
6 Sep 2013, 7:30 PM
Owen Patersen and those pro cull who are intent on justifying the badger culling which is taking place now for six weeks keep on going on about the ‘success’ of Tb eradication in the Republic of Ireland. However, they are economical with the truth. The reality is that every cow is tested annually there (mandatory) and reactors removed and slaughtered efficiently in Ireland (see www.dardni.gov.uk/tbstats-jun2013.pdf). Until last year less than half of British cattle were tested annually (although that is supposed to rise to 61% this year).
Interestingly 22%t of all new confirmed bTB case in UK cattle are first discovered at slaughterhouses, the animals having come from officially TB-free herds.
Is bTB being blown out of all proportion? According to Defra's own statistics for bTB incidents (cattle compulsorily slaughtered and new herd incidents) , comparing Jan 0 Dec 2012 figures with Jan - Dec 2013 figures, reveal an incident rate in 2012 of 4.4% and in 2013 4.1%.
2 Sep 2013, 10:23 PM
Some very interesting comments from a farmer who farms near Glos where badger culling is currently taking place. Of particular interest was his highlighting of Defra’s recent document ‘Draft Strategy for Achieving "Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free" Status for England 4 July 2013’ https://consult.defra.gov.uk/farming/tb/supporting_documents/Draft%20%20Strategy.pdf Annex B, page 64 which contains a simple chart with an analysis showing that incidence of bTB has remained stable/dropping slightly for the last five years so bTB is neither ‘out of control’ nor ‘epidemic’. So, why are we resorting to badger culling?
David Heath, the Farming Minister has admitted that cull would "not be able to statistically determine either the effectiveness (in terms of badgers removed) or humaneness of controlled shooting". So, what is it doing then? Reports we have seen coming in from the culling areas have been very disturbing and if they are true then someone needs to do something. This one is particularly awful, from a person who was demonstrating in the Somerset area and sent to us today by email from PH :
Police would be neutral! - WRONG. Badgers would be killed outright - WRONG. Protestors intimidating farmer s- WRONG, from where I am, its the other way around. Dogs would only be used, when on a lead, and only to track not attack - WRONG. I heard a badger being shot, not killed outright, seconds later, 2 dogs finished the poor old badger of! How do I know, if I didn't see? Ans: Screams and cries of the badger. Pro cull farmers, have a raw deal - WRONG, I was in the car that was deliberately rammed by pro cull, very, very unpleasant. There will be no Perturbation, they will do, a proper job! - WRONG! Bore witness to healthy looking adult and 2 cubs fleeing, and it broke my heart, they did not know what was happening. Disorientated and frightened. This is a true account of my experience last week in the cull zone.'
1 Sep 2013, 11:52 AM
The government e-petition to stop the badger cull at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257 now has over 290,000 signatures and is the highest number of signatories ever for a government petition yet the government (despite overwhelming criticism from many eminent scientists and other experts) has allowed the two trial culls which are currently taking place in Somerset and Gloucestershire and plans are already in place for culling in many other areas next year - before these trials have even been assessed!
The petition closes on 7th September 2013.
The current trials are supposed to be measuring humanness but the resources for this are pitifully low and in reality there will be little checking - and the dead badgers will not even be checked for bTB - the vast majority of those killed will be healthy animals.
In view of the overwhelming public opposition and doubts over whether it will make much difference there are many protesters who are actively protesting and trying to prevent the shooting in the culling zones. There are real safety risks and the police are out in force - paid for by the taxpayer. Such protests are bound to effect the numbers of badgers shot, so will the target figures be reached? It is a ridiculous situation and reveals just how disproportionate such an exercise is.
28 Aug 2013, 5:37 PM
According to a Rethink Bovine TB posting on 27/08/14 Heath has told Lord Krebs that the badger cull would not be able to determine statistically the effectiveness or humaneness of controlled shooting. As the government has said that the main reason for the badger culling shooting trials this year are to test humaneness this makes a nonsense of the whole sorry saga ...
28 Aug 2013, 3:06 PM
Ministers have ordered that badgers killed as a result of the culling which has now started in Somerset and Gloucestershire WILL NOT BE TESTED FOR bTB.
How convenient - a deliberate ploy to ensure no-one knows just how few badgers are really infected and riddled with disease? Surely such tests are a vital factor in establishing if the badger really is the culprit? It is already known that badger culling will not make much difference, is not cost effective, is dividing communities .... tests on badgers in the past have proven that the vast majority are not riddled with disease despite those who support the cull trying to convince us otherwise. The vast majority of those destined to be shot will be healthy animals.
27 Aug 2013, 2:08 PM
Press Release received today from Badger Trust
Official shooting breaks out in the night
The worst and most cynical onslaught ever against the British badger, a protected wildlife species, has now begun. This travesty of both science and sense is in the vain hope that killing badgers could have some meaningful effect on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England.
The Coalition has threatened that eventually up to 100,000 badgers could be killed in the present scheme, which is at the insistence of the cattle industry supported by Ministers. The scientific necessity of short-term simultaneous killing has been ignored while an attack on cattle-to-cattle infection, the principal cause of bTB, was inexcusably delayed for decades until now.
David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said:
‘The Trust is determined to fight on wherever possible as we have in the past through all legal avenues. Members will scrutinise everything that happens and the Trust will continue to take the best legal and scientific advice.
‘We urge people living in the “pilot” culling areas of West Gloucestershire and West Somerset to listen for shooting, look out for wounded badgers and report all locations as accurately as possible to email@example.com or via 0845 828 7878.
‘However, on no account must anyone enter private land or attempt to interfere with the shooters and staff’.
Some badgers could be wounded either by the official shooters or opportunist criminals who may assume open season had been declared. A detailed set of guidelines for the public has been compiled by Pauline Kidner and Dr. Elizabeth Mullineaux PhD, MRCVS, at Secret World Wildlife Rescue (SWWR) at Highbridge, Somerset - can be viewed at: www.badger.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/712_S4.pdf?dm_i=1NFN,1SIR9,906LDO,6EG23,1.
Groups and supporters are asked to contact veterinary surgeons and wildlife hospitals in the two pilot areas to ensure action is taken if wounded badgers are found and that consistent and accurate records are kept. The official monitoring as proposed is pathetically thin with only two people a night watching to ensure efficiency, safety and humaneness, but a report on the likelihood of these being achieved has been so heavily censored as to be useless.
The Badger Trust is relieved that lawful protest against the pointless Badger cull has been protected by the High Court.
The NFU stated in open court that they have no objection to lawful and proper protest about the cull and were not seeking to restrict this. Their initial application was not accepted and after hearing argument by the Badger Trust a far more reasoned and balanced order was made protecting the rights of the Badger Trust and others to campaign for a change in this foolhardy policy. The Badger Trust will continue to highlight the folly of this policy that will neither reduce TB in a meaningful way or help the badger population.
The Badger Trust was joined to proceedings as an interested party and was there to assist the court. Mr Justice Turner confirmed the importance of protecting the right to protest and made an order against harassment of those involved in the cull and was keen to protect people’s homes.
The Badger Trust in no way supports unlawful protest. The order is therefore a welcome confirmation that those concerned about this senseless cull of badgers can continue to make their voice heard. The Trust hopes the government will soon realise the pointless nature of this cull and engage in more helpful methods of TB control rather than killing badgers”
Press Release from Badger Trust today.
23 Aug 2013, 5:04 PM
An injunction has been granted to restrict people protesting against the badger cull. The NFU applied for the injunction, claiming some farmers have been intimidated and harassed and therefore need protection.
The High Court ruling means no protest will be allowed to take place within 100m of the homes, and within 25m of businesses, of anyone involved. I wonder how this will work though as we thought the locations of the farms involved were being kept confidential?
Lawful protest against the badger cull will still be allowed. The High Court in London granted the injunction after several hours of negotiations over the wording of the injunction between protesters and the NFU.
NFU president Peter Kendall said after the hearing that the injunction was intended to prevent "unacceptable incidents of harassment", and not to stop lawful protest.
Jay Tiernan, who was named in court as a representative of the Coalition of Badger Action Groups, said the ruling would not stop protests.
The injunction includes provisions preventing protesters entering private land without consent. Anyone found to be in breach could face contempt of court proceedings.
The so called 'pilot culls (although others are already being planned for next year) will run over a six-week period ans more than 5,000 badgers could be killed. The cull will involve the animals being shot in the open by marksmen using high-velocity rifles. The badgers will not be trapped in cages first.