£7.3m … the cost of killing badgers in the ‘diasterous’ cull

The contentious badger cull has cost an astonishing £4,100 for each animal killed – almost double previous estimates – campaigners claimed last night.

New calculations suggest that the amount spent on killing 1,771 badgers since the cull began in August 2013 was £7.3 million, with taxpayers picking up a £5.8 million share of the bill. The animals were killed to prevent the spread of bovine TB (bTB) to cattle.

Figures were compiled by the animal charity ‘Care for the Wild’. In October 2013, it put the cost at £2,200 for each badger, but it has now updated its information after the cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset was extended by several weeks. The initial trial ended during the winter. The figures were derived from answers to parliamentary questions, statistics from the department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Freedom of Information requests.

The cost to farmers who paid for the actual culling itself was calculated at £1.49 million. The policing bill was put at £2.66 million, made up of costs for manpower, transport, equipment and accommodation. A further £3.17 million was attributed to costs at the environmental quango, Natural England, the food and Environment Research Agency and Defra, and included trapping, monitoring and data collection.  Care for the Wild claims that continuing the trials for another three years – as the licence from Natural England allows – would mean a final bill of £19million.

The cull failed to hit the target rates during the trial, even after these were revised downward.

Charity spokesman Dominic Dyer called it ‘one of the most disastrous and expensive wildlife culls in history.’ He added, ‘This is being done to the sound of scientists almost universally saying that culling won’t have any significant impact on TB’.

The National Farmers’ Union said: ‘If marksmen had been allowed to go about their lawful business, there wouldn’t have been any policing costs’.

Source: Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail