Badger cull 'could be held in the South Hams'
THE second phase of badger culling could be held in the South Hams if pilot projects prove to be successful, a senior police officer has indicated.
Natural England has already granted a licence for a cull in Gloucestershire, with permission expected to follow shortly for a site in West Somerset.
The pilots are designed to test the methodology of shooting free-running badgers. If successful, the policy could be rolled out in a bid to tackle the scourge of bovine TB which sees thousands of cattle slaughtered every year.
Devon and Cornwall Police have been closely involved in planning the policing response with the cull expected in neighbouring Avon and Somerset.
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At a meeting of Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton was asked when any cull might come to the force area.
"At the moment the guidance is that it will depend on the success of the two pilot schemes," Mr Netherton said. "They will then make a decision on how far they roll it out.
"The next proposed culls will be in the South Hams, and other bits of Devon, but we have to see how successful these culls are."
Mr Netherton also said the force had "contingency plans" in place if the local offices of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or the National Farmers' Union were targeted by protesters.
He added: "We hope that those are not needed."
Subject to the success of the pilot projects, it was always likely that the second phase of culling would take place in Devon and Cornwall given the prevalence of bovine TB in the region. Any proposed cull zone requires the support of 70 per cent of landowners in the area.