Badger cull

Badger cull response

Badger - Andrew Parkinson 2020Vision

The badger cull - update

On 27 May 2021 the Government announced that it will continue to issue licenses to kill badgers over the next four years. This will put 130,000 animals at risk of being shot.

This announcement follows a public consultation earlier in the year. With the support of The Wildlife Trusts, over 39,000 people responded to the Government’s consultation and 36,958 of those went on to email their MP urging the Government to stop issuing badger cull licenses immediately.

Our response

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust opposes the badger cull and does not allow badger culling on its land. In line with other Wildlife Trusts, we think that the Government’s plan to phase out the badger cull means that no further cull licenses should be granted.

The Government has announced that new licenses will be granted in 2021 and 2022. As licenses last for four years, this means that badgers will continue to be shot until 2026 - this could result in another 130,000 badgers being killed over the next four years. We feel that the Government has failed to listen to the public, who want to see an immediate end to the badger cull and implementation of a cattle vaccine. Cattle vaccination offers the best long-term way to reduce bovine TB in the cattle population.

We recognise the hardship faced by many farmers in dealing with bovine TB. At Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust we are proud to have pioneered the deployment of badger vaccination as an alternative reducing TB in the badger population.

We have regularly asked MPs to review the badger culling policy both locally and nationally in collaboration with other Wildlife Trusts. We are very disappointed at this latest development.

Roger Mortlock, CEO of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) says:

‘‘GWT pioneered badger vaccination in the UK and was the first non-Government organisation to prove it can work in a trial that ran between 2011 and 2015 across the county. Our report at the end of that trial concluded badger vaccination had been under-used in the fight against Bovine TB and that we need to work with farmers on solutions that should include vaccinating badgers and cattle.

Another five years on, and our position remains the same. There are no silver bullets in tackling this devastating disease, but vaccinations are deliverable, cost effective and avoid the unnecessary culling of a protected species."

Badger cull consultation FAQs

What's the latest news?

On 27 May 2021, the Government announced that it will continue to issue licenses to kill badgers over the next four years. This will put 130,000 animals at risk of being shot.

The announcement follows a public consultation earlier this year. With the support of The Wildlife Trusts, over 39,000 people responded to the Government’s consultation and 36,958 of those went on to email their MP urging the Government to stop issuing badger cull licenses immediately.

What's been happening?

In January the Government issued a consultation on the next phase of their 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB in England by 2038. As part of this, there are proposals to stop issuing the current intensive cull licences for new areas after 2022.

This was reported in the media as an end to culling of badgers from 2022 which is untrue. The consultation proposals mean that four-year culling licences can still be issued in 2021 and 2022. So, in effect, culling could continue up to 2028.

Why is this important?

If the cull continues as proposed, with new licences that may be granted in 2021 and 2022, it is estimated that over 60% of the total England and Wales population will have been shot. There is real concern that this will lead to local extinctions of badgers across parts of the country.

What does GWT think about this?

GWT has consistently opposed the culling of badgers and we do not agree that the science supports culling as an effective way to control the spread of TB in cattle. We firmly believe this badger culling is not supported by science and is a poor use of public funds. Culling disrupts badgers’ social structure, causing them to move around more frequently and over longer distances – which can actually result in increased bovine TB transmission.

We recognise the hardship faced by many farmers in dealing with bovine TB. There are no silver bullets in tackling this devastating disease, but a vaccine for cattle needs to be fast tracked as it offers the best long-term way to reduce bovine TB.

We are proud to have pioneered the deployment of badger vaccination in Gloucestershire, demonstrating that it is deliverable, cost effective and lowers the likelihood that the infection will be passed to cattle from badgers. We think it remains an underused tool in the toolbox to fight bovine TB.

European Badger

Find out more

Badger - Andrew Parkinson 2020Vision

Further reading

The Wildlife Trusts' response to the Government u-turn on promises to end badger culling

Further information from The Wildlife Trusts about badgers and bovine TB

References

  1. Donnelly, CA & Nouvellet, P., 2013. The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in England. PLoS Currents: Outbreaks. http://currents.plos.org/outbreaks/article/the-contribution-of-badger-to-cattle-tb-incidence-in-high-cattle-incidence-areas/