Thousands more badgers at risk under new Government plans to extend cull licences

Badger by Andrew Parkinson 2020Vision

Public urged to take part in Defra consultation as Wildlife Trusts make last ditch effort to stop the cull

BBOWT has issued a last minute plea to supporters today for help to stop more than a hundred thousand badgers being wiped out by culling across the UK countryside.

The UK Government is currently discussing when to stop issuing licences for the badger cull, as part of its efforts to tackle the spread of Bovine TB. A Defra consultation on the issue closes on 24th March and BBOWT is urging its supporters to have their say.

Badger culling would continue until at least 2026 or even 2028, decimating many badger populations

The Government is suggesting delaying the end of the issuing of cull licences until 2022, which would sound the death knell for at least 130,000 badgers nationally. This could mean thousands of healthy badgers dying across Oxfordshire and Berkshire, where there are proposals to issue licences which would see culling starting in new areas of the two counties later this year.

Each culling licence lasts for 4 years. The current consultation is also requesting an extension to these licences - meaning badger culling would continue until at least 2026 or even 2028, decimating many badger populations.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust’s Mammal Project Manager Julia Lofthouse said:

Badgers are magnificent icons of our countryside and the emblem of the Wildlife Trusts. We cannot stand by and let this needless slaughter happen. Please help us put urgent pressure on the Government to stop the cull right now and not to extend it further.

“We do sympathise with the plight of farmers and know the hardship that bovine TB causes. But culling badgers is not the answer. The Government has seen no definitive benefits from seven years of industry-led culling of badgers in England. The science tells us the main route of bovine TB transmission is between cattle – not from wildlife such as badgers.”

The Wildlife Trusts, including BBOWT, have asked the Government to stop issuing culling licences immediately. They’re asking the public to add their voices to the growing calls to stop the cull by responding to the Defra consultation urgently.

Oxfordshire and Berkshire are among the counties where the shooting of badgers will be allowed in an attempt to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle. Yet since 2014 BBOWT has been running a successful badger vaccination programme. The results have proved there is a much more humane way to tackle bovine TB that is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger than culling.

If the culls go ahead, hundreds, if not thousands, of healthy, vaccinated badgers could be killed on BBOWT’s patch.

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 TB. To date, over 140,000 badgers have been culled. If Government proposals to extend the cull go ahead, the total number of badgers lost could reach almost 300,000. The total badger population in England and Wales was estimated to be only around 485,000 in 2017.

Based on its 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.

The Defra consultation is open until 24th March 2021. To make your views known and to stand up for badgers click here.

BBOWT will continue running its badger vaccination project and working hard to protect the wildlife in our three counties. If you would like to donate to our ongoing work, you can do so below.

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