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Defra confirm funding withdrawal for NED
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The National Equine Database will close in September

It has been confirmed by Defra that funding for the National Equine Database (NED) will be discontinued and the system will be closed down at the end of September this year.

NED manages data from passport issuing organisations on behalf of the Government. The NED Online public website has been live since 2008 and an increasing number of users visit the site every day to search for horses, check passports and to report horses as lost, stolen and recovered.

Earlier in the year a tendering process for a new central equine database was initiated by the Government and companies were invited to submit bids. However, Defra decided that on the basis of a cost benefit analysis of the bids submitted in conjunction with the benefits of and need for a central system, the contract would not be awarded to any of the bidders and that no new central, Defra funded database would exist.

BEF’s Chief Executive, Andrew Finding, said: “Given the challenges of public expenditure we understand Defra’s decision, it is sad that they have decided not to continue to fund NED Ltd. We welcome their commitment to maintain and strengthen the requirements for Passport Issuing Organisations and address the serious issues of abandoned and fly-grazed horses and the introduction of additional measures to improve the quality and robustness of passports to protect the human food chain.”

As funding will be ceased and revenue generated by public use of the site is not enough to support the system, the services provided will be withdrawn from the 30th September.

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News Shorts
Natural England authorises second year of badger culls

Badger culling in west Somerset and Gloucestershire can continue this year after being officially authorised by Natural England, it was confirmed yesterday.

Start dates for the six-week culls have not yet been announced and will be decided by the companies licensed to conduct the culls.

Licensees have been given a target to remove a minimum of 615 badgers from the population in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset. The maximum number of badgers allowed to be culled has been set at 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.

Natural England says the minimum number remains under review as the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) that monitored last year's culls advised there were significant difficulties in gaining an accurate estimate of badger populations.

The IEP report on last year's culls found they failed on effectiveness and humaneness.

This year, Natural England says it will carry out field observations to monitor the accuracy of controlled shooting. AHVLA vets will conduct post-mortem examinations on a minimum of 60 badgers randomly selected from each cull area.