Wildlife Trust response to possible extension of badger cull into Oxfordshire and Berkshire

The Government is now considering applications for shooting badgers in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, although new evidence shows that many badgers in these areas do not have bovine TB.

Julia Lofthouse, the Mammal Project Officer with the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust says: “We do not believe the shooting of badgers is ever an appropriate way of controlling bovine TB in cattle. Along with other Wildlife Trusts around the country, we have proven that vaccination is a viable alternative.

“For the last two years we have collected badgers killed on the roads of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and sent them to the University of Surrey to be tested for bovine TB. None of the dead badgers collected in either county were infected with TB. These findings show there is no justification for a cull.”

BBOWT will not allow a cull to take place on any of our land

The Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) opened a consultation this week on extending the badger cull. Farmer-led groups are believed to have applied for licences to extend the badger cull into Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

If the badger cull is extended to Oxfordshire and Berkshire BBOWT will not allow it to take place on any of our land.

In 2014 BBOWT set up a programme to trap and vaccinate badgers on its own land and over the years, with the support of neighbouring landowners, this has expanded to include private estates and farms.

We have proven that vaccination is a viable alternative

Julia Lofthouse explained: “We vaccinate every badger we trap; even if the animal is already infected the vaccination will slow the progression of the disease. Vaccination is a better solution than culling even where there is evidence of TB in badgers.”

BBOWT recently received news that DEFRA is awarding the Trust £66,000 to continue and expand the badger vaccination project over the next four years.

BBOWT remains steadfast that vaccinating badgers is only one of several effective ways of controlling the spread of bovine TB; other ways include increased biosecurity on farms, and an effective vaccine for cattle.

In February the Government announced a review of its bovine TB strategy under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Charles Godfray, a population biologist and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford. Read more.

 

Read more about BBOWT's work on badgers and bovine TB