Government U-turn on promises to end badger culling

Government U-turn on promises to end badger culling

Badger by Andrew Parkinson 2020Vision

Largest ever cull authorised this autumn, bringing the total shot to 35% of UK’s badger population.

The Wildlife Trusts are aghast that more than 70,000 healthy badgers will be shot this autumn in the government’s largest ever seasonal cull. 

The move comes despite the government’s promise just six months ago to support badger vaccination and move away from shooting this protected species.

The cull will result in the deaths of badgers which have been vaccinated by volunteers in government-funded programmes. 

Oxfordshire is one of 6 new areas where culling has never previously taken place under government licences. 

Since 2014, BBOWT has been running a successful badger vaccination programme. The results have proven that there is a much more humane way to tackle bovine tuberculosis that is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger than culling.

BBOWT staff inoculating a badger as part of the trust's bTB vaccination programme.

BBOWT staff inoculating a badger as part of the trust's bTB vaccination programme.

In March — following a review by Professor Godfray — the government promised to move away from lethal control. However, after seven years of badger culling, the government has failed to act on its own advice and is expanding its culling programme into new regions including Oxfordshire.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust CEO Estelle Bailey says: 

“BBOWT remains adamant that a cull is not necessary for the control of bTB, if alternative approaches including vaccination are fully implemented. 

“Culling does not address the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB which is cattle-to-cattle transmission, and it undermines our vaccination programmes. Culling is outdated, ineffective and immoral. This government has repeatedly said it will be guided by the science, yet it seems to be ignoring its own advice.”  

The Wildlife Trusts’ latest campaign has resulted in over 14,000 people so far writing to their MPs raising concerns about the badger cull and plans to expand it into new areas. 

The Wildlife Trusts oppose culling and believe the science used to justify the killing of thousands of badgers every year in the UK is flawed. Evidence shows that bTB is primarily a cattle problem, not a wildlife one. The main route of bTB transmission in cattle is between cattle. 

This autumn’s cull brings the overall total of badgers shot since culling began in 2013 to over 170,000 badger deaths. This is approximately 35% of the UK badger population. The cull began in 2013 and is expected to continue for a further four years.