Weekly Round Up 16/11/2014

The headlines of the past week have been dominated by the G20 meetings in Australia and the success of the Rosetta mission, however a lot has been happening a lot closer to home too. The past week saw developments in both ongoing sagas of the Devon beavers and the badger cull, as well as good news for the Scottish Wildcat

How much for a badger? 

It has emerged that the cost of each badger killed during the first set of controversial pilot badger culls amounted to £3,350 per badger. 1,879 badgers were culled during the first trial last year, with official figures showing the trial cost the taxpayer £6.3m in total.

Although campaigners claim that the badger cull is an inhumane method of controlling the spread of Tb, the government claims that the high total cost was due to monitoring the humaneness of the cull – £2.6m was spent on measuring this. Moreover ant-cull campaigners also claim that the cost has been underestimated by authorities as they have not accounted for the cost of policing the cull. When policing is included in the cost, the price of each badger rises to over £5,000.

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Scottish Wildcat Gains New Protected Sites

Under severe threat from hybridisation, the 100 remaining individuals of the Scottish Wildcat population have been granted six new protection sites.

The sites; Angus Glens, northern Strathspey, Morvern, Strathavon, Strathbogie (around Huntly) and Strathpeffer, have been designated as potential wildcat strongholds as cats showing strong wildcat features have been seen there. Although not all the cats have been tested for their DNA, they displayed a high proportion of wildcat genetic markers, therefore the sites were designated worthy of protection.

Plans have also been put in place to halt the threat from hybridisation. This includes co-ordinating atrap, neuter and release (TNR) programme to neuter all feral and hybrids as well as encouraging domestic cat owners to neuter and vaccinate their pets.

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UK’s Leading Opposition to Curbing Plastic Bag Use

Plastic bags are an icon of our waste, their one-use nature is symbolic of our throw away culture. The European Parliament want to curb our addiction to them by imposing an 80% cut in the 100bn bags used by Europeans every year.

Despite plastic bags posing huge environmental threats, especially towards our already suffering oceans many countries including the United Kingdom are opposing these plans. The Green Party claim this is partly due to the business affairs of leading Tories, who have strong links to Symphony Environmental Technologies, the largest manufacturer of oxo-degradable bags. Studies have shown that fragments of these bags stay in the environment for many years and they cannot be composted or recycled.

The government however claims that they are determined to overcome the blight caused by unnecessary plastic bag use with plans to introduce a 5p bag charge in England from October 2015.

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The Saga of the Devon Beavers Continued

This week the government appeared to soften its stance on the situation regarding the family of beavers living on the River Otter. Previously arguing that they are non-native and a threat to native wildlife as they could be carrying disease, the government had planned on removing them and testing them for disease over 300 miles away.

However it has now emerged that the government may now test the beavers closer to their new home which would make it easier to re-release them again if they were disease free. It is also claimed that they have given sole responsibility of any potential re-release to Natural England who championed the benefits of beavers in a 2009 report. This is a happy shift from their previous stance that the beavers must be removed from the wild.

Beavers were previously native to England before they were hunted to extinction. It is claimed that leaving the beavers in the wild would have significant benefits for the river such as boosting dwindling fish stocks and improving our waterways.

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Emily Stewart
Owner of Inspirewildlife - a site dedicated to sharing positive conservation news stories from around the world. Zoo Management Graduate from University of Chester
Emily Stewart

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