It's harder than it should be! We're campaigning pretty forcibly on a number of fronts when it comes to the cull including applying pressure on Defra's in-house BTB specialist unit which exists, apparently, to engage with stakeholders and the public on all matters relating to bovine TB and the badger cull. Except when it comes to answering questions it wishes you hadn't asked.
As you can see from the below, we're not going to be ignored.
Fri 31/03/2023 18:12
Dear Defra TB Programme, I haven't had a reply from you to my email dated 17th January 2023 and would like one now, please. To remind you, I asked the following questions. They're all straightforward and it shouldn't be taking more than two months for you to provide the answers. If you don't know the answers, please refer me to the person who does. Please confirm the basis of your/Natural England’s understanding of the initial Area 56 and Area 67 badger populations in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Please advise me who determined that up to 95% of those populations (according to your own methodologies) could be exterminated in 2020/2021 and 2022 and on what basis.
Please disclose the epidemiological rationale on which the 115% increase in the Hampshire badger cull target from 2021 to 2022 was based.
Please let me know when we can expect to see publication of the actual number of badgers slaughtered under license in 2022 in Hampshire.
I have a further question for you as well. On 7th March this year Ranil Jayawardena MP wrote in a letter to one of our members that, "Last year's consultation proposed how culling will be phased out and the next steps of the strategy accelerated, especially improved diagnostic testing. It included proposals to stop issuing intensive cull licenses for new areas after 2022; to allow new licenses to be cut short after two or three years based on a review of the latest scientific evidence and for new supplementary cull licenses granted in regions that have completed intensive culls to be restricted to two years and not reissued afterwards". Please can you confirm this means the Area 56 cull license, issued in 2021, can now be cut short based on there being no confirmed scientific evidence of bTB in badgers found dead in Hampshire (save 1 carcass from 84 tested to the end of February 2023 under the ongoing APHA "Southern Edge" project) and no confirmed cases of badgers as a herd infection source in either the APHA Year-End Descriptive Epidemiology Reports (Hampshire) for 2020 or 2021? I look forward to hearing from you without further delay. Yours faithfully, Nick Cole North East Hampshire Badger Group www.northeasthampshirebadgergroup.com