This year’s cull will involve free shooting at bait points; see below for the drawings from the Defra shooting regulations. The bait points are to be more than 30 metres away from a sett. It is our understanding that they aim to shoot over 80 badgers a night in each of the cull zones, an organiser has told us that this will be done one at a time, not in groups as we imagined.
We can tell you from a source close to a shooter a few facts:
there will be 3 person teams, 2 shooters and 1 driver. They will be accompanied by a Natural England observer SOME of the time.
They will be working from 9pm to 3am, but not on a set pattern but rather according to the weather, a good time for them to be out is after or during rain, many NFU spokespeople are saying that it needs to be dry THIS IS DISINFORMATION. They certainly will be out on nights when it is not raining but if it is very dry and has been for a few days then they are less likely to be out. They will also be out a lot when the moon is full, this only leaves the weekend at the end of October and possibly the weekend at the end of November but the badgers may well be in semi-hibernation by then.
The NFU are supplying the peanuts for the pre-baiting and baiting of bait points.
The shooters will be doing the pre-baiting for 3-7 days before shooting at bait points, some pre-baiting will be done directly on the setts to get the badgers used to peanuts.
Some of the shooters are game keepers and farm workers so they may start pre-baiting at any time before the licence in anticipation, however some of the farms and land is being culled by people from outside the area, these shooters who are coming in from outside are highly unlikely to pre-bait the bait point before they have been paid.
Cages are being used in areas where the topography demands it, particularly flat land. The shooters will decide where
“7. Natural England must be informed immediately, in writing, about any land that is withdrawn or
which otherwise ceases to be eligible to participate in licensed operations. No operations
authorised by this licence may commence unless at least 70% of land in the Control Area, as
defined in Annex A, is accessible for action to be taken under this licence.”
So if we can convince a couple of farmers to pull out, the cull will stop immediately.
Here are the shooting guidelines specific to this cull, with some extracts below:
Page 1 states “operators must never feel rushed into taking a shot”.
Page 4 again encourages illegal activity “reduce badger densities (numbers per area) by at least 70%”. This publication is from Defra so please ask them about it
and from Page 8:
35. Because of the slant of the shoulder blades, the elbow travels somewhat further backwards than in foxes and deer, and consequently when the fore-leg is in the vertical position, the heart/lung area will be temporarily obscured by a robust bony limb (Fig. 2). The heavy fringe of fur on the foreleg may further obscure the precise point of aim. The angle of the badger relative to the shooter will also alter the effective size and position of the target area on the surface of the animal. The further the animal is from a full broadside view the smaller the target area will appear and the less certain accurate shot placement becomes (see Fig. 2). Shots must only be taken when the animal is stationary, when the target area is clearly visible and the animal is more or less broadside on, so the shooter is confident of an accurate and humane shot.
36. The head of an otherwise stationary animal may be moving, or move without warning. An animal is likely to move its head if it becomes aware of potential danger, or as it checks its surroundings. Because of this, and the very small lethal target area, a head shot presents an unacceptable risk of wounding and must not be attempted. In addition, the neck is relatively long and the bony processes of the vertebrae are short, so the neck presents a target line only about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. The risk of non-fatal injury therefore makes a neck shot unacceptable in any circumstances.
Here is DEFRA Bovine TB and badger control document:
You can find out more specifics of how the cull will work on this news article