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Badger cull postponed until next summer
Announcement made to the House of Commons

It has been announced today (23 October) that the badger cull is to be delayed until next year by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) secretary Owen Paterson.

The government's aim was to cull several thousand badgers over a period of six years, in order to help control bovine tuberculosis (bTB), which is spread by the wild animals.

There have been numerous protests and legal battles against the cull, planned for pilot this autumn in Gloucestershire and Somerset, including an e-petition that attracted more than 160,000 signatures.

Mr Paterson said this is not the best time of year to go ahead and, in a statement to the House of Commons, said that the cull should have started earlier this summer, but had been delayed due to Olympics, Paralympics and then bad weather.

Government data shows that if more than 70 per cent of badgers in an area are eradicated, the disease could be slowed slightly, however, less than 70 per cent could cause an increase in bTB.

Mr Paterson said: "It would be wrong to go ahead if those on the ground cannot be confident of removing at least 70 per cent of the population."

He added: "By starting the pilots next summer, we can build on the work that's already been done and ensure that the cull will conform to the scientific criteria and the evidence base."

Numerous organisations, including the BVA, and National Farmers Union (NFU) and RSPCA have backed the decision to postpone the cull; however, whilst some welcome the fact that there has not been a u-turn on the policy, others say this must not be a temporary reprieve - but must mark an end to the plans.

Click here to read the statement.

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Hedgehog project launched at Edinburgh campus

News Story 1
 The University of Edinburgh has launched a hedgehog-friendly project at its Easter Bush Campus, which is home to the Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

A survey is being carried out at the campus to assess how many hedgehogs are in the area. A team of around 20 volunteers installed 10 small tunnels in different locations and they will track footprints to gauge hedgehog presence.

Landscape experts are also creating habitats where the mammals can eat, shelter and breed. It is hoped that student projects will be developed at an open day on 12 October. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Irelandís airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Irelandís animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.