Great news that the badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough badgers to meet their greatly reduced targets.
The collapse of the trial means that Natural England will revoke the culling licence and the controversial cull is to end three weeks earlier than planned.
The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds and the one in Gloucestershire was tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.
However, just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension. A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, had wanted to roll out the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an independent panel of experts, which will judge whether the culls have been effective, safe and humane.
Mark Jones, Executive Director of Humane Society International-UK said: “I am much relieved the government’s badger cull fiasco is finally over, for the time being at least. We hope the government will now do the decent thing and admit that killing badgers to control TB in cattle is a ludicrous and inhumane idea.”
Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, said a protest against the cull in Bristol today would now turn into a celebration. “We’ve already learned lessons about culling – that it doesn’t work,” he said. “We know that there is another way – an improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger vaccination.”
A new report says the British zoo licensing and inspection system is failing to guarantee essential animal welfare standards in zoos.
The study found that only 22 out of 136 zoos were assessed as meeting all the animal welfare standards at consecutive inspections and one or more of the same criteria remained substandard at consecutive inspections in more than one-third of zoos (35%).
The report, carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol and the Born Free Foundation, has also found zoos that were members of a professional association, such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquarium, did not significantly out-perform non-members. The researchers found bird parks and farm parks performed the least well.
The Born Free Foundation is calling on the Government-appointed Zoos Expert Committee and relevant licencing authorities ito consider this new evidence and bring forward urgent new measures to ensure that all licensed zoos are meeting their legal and moral obligations to the animals in their care and to the paying public.
Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, said: “British zoos often claim to deliver higher standards than others around the world, but this study adds further weight to our conviction that we should not forget what is happening on our own doorstep.
“It is very concerning to see the range of problems that still afflict British zoos and their animals, and to discover that so many are failing to meet, let alone exceed, minimum animal welfare standards.
“It seems that the zoo licensing and inspection process, and the zoo industry itself, cannot guarantee the welfare of animals in British zoos, and it is time for a radical rethink regarding our approach to zoos in Britain.”