Government’s plan to phase out badger cull must mean end to cull licences now

Andrew Parkinson

The Wildlife Trusts have shared their response to the Government’s consultation on the badger cull and are calling upon the Government to stop issuing badger cull licences with immediate effect. We urge the public to respond.

Based on their analysis of the consultation, The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to:

· Stop issuing badger cull licences immediately. This will bring an end to the badger cull sooner than proposed, saving tens of thousands of badgers.

· Implement a cattle vaccine. Cattle vaccination offers the best long-term way to reduce bovine TB in the cattle population.

· Review how cattle are transported around the country and ensure measures are in place to prevent infection spread from cattle to cattle.

· Fast track the transition from culling to badger vaccination.

Recent Government proposals suggested an end to granting cull licences in 2022, but this could still result in another 130,000 badgers being killed over the next four years.

Jo Smith, Chief Executive at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “There is much confusion in the public domain about the Government proposals to end the badger cull. Recent media headlines stated that the cull would end in 2022 but the reality is that badger culling will continue until 2026. This is because the majority of cull licences last four years.”

The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the public to respond to the consultation which ends on 24th March – and help end the cull. This is the latest step in the fight by The Wildlife Trusts to end the killing of badgers, a protected species.

The Government’s proposals have different implications for different parts of England. In the High Risk Areas for bovine TB in the South West and West, the end of many years of badger culling may now be in sight, but in those counties that lie in the Edge Area like Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and other central counties, the proposals could lead to a rush in applications for badger cull licences that will run for at least four years.

Helen Trotman, People and Wildlife Manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said “The proposals include reducing the upfront financial commitment of cull companies for licences to be granted which could ultimately mean tax payers are paying for culls to be completed if cull companies collapse and the costs can’t be recovered from them. What’s particularly worrying for Shropshire is the potential for additional badger cull areas to be pushed through in time to meet the deadline. This could mean culling over the whole of Shropshire.”

The Wildlife Trusts have always been firmly opposed to the badger cull and believe that it is an ineffective tool in the fight against bovine tuberculosis (bTB). To date, over 140,000 badgers have been culled [2]. The proposals recently announced by the Government as part of a consultation process will result in approximately another 130,000 badgers being killed, taking the total to almost 300,000. The total badger population in England and Wales was estimated to be around 485,000 in 2017 [3].

Respond to the Government consultation on the badger cull - before 24th March 2021.

Badger activist Dominic Dyer will be hosting an online conversation and Q&A session about badgers and vaccinations on Wednesday 17th March.

To attend, please book tickets here in advance