Badger cull consultation

Monday 26 February, 2018

Defra has launched a three-month consultation on proposals to allow limited culling of badgers in low-risk areas, including Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Wildlife Trusts are firmly opposed to the badger cull and no Wildlife Trust in the UK will allow culling on its land.

Badgers are being culled as part of a government initiative to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. bTB  is a highly infectious disease of cattle which devastates thousands of farming businesses annually. Since the mid-1980s, the incidence of bTB in cattle has increased substantially creating an economic burden on the taxpayer and the farming industry, as infected cattle must be culled.

Government research shows that TB is not a major cause of death in badgers. Generally, infected badgers do not show any sign of infection and can survive for many years before suffering from severe emaciation.

83% of badgers culled in government trials 2002-2005 tested TB free.

Pilot badger culls commenced in 2013 in Gloucester and Somerset amid much opposition. More than 300,000 people supported a petition opposing the cull. An Independent Expert Panel (IEP) was appointed by Defra to assess the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the 2013 culls. The panel deemed the culls 'ineffective' and 'inhumane' in 2013, with no significant improvement - and further failures - in 2014. Despite two parliamentary debates, a prominent opposition campaign and the support of numerous experts and high profile figures, the number of areas has increased to 21. 19,274 badgers were culled in the 2017 badger cull in England.

Brendan Joyce, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust said: “Norfolk Wildlife Trust supports the view of The Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK that badger culling is ineffective and inhumane as a means of controlling the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

“We are very concerned to learn the government may now be planning to extend the current culling to other areas of England. Whilst we have every sympathy for the plight of livestock farmers and the effect of the disease on livestock, we not believe this is the way forward, and that the scientific evidence supports our view.

“We would expect to be involved in any consultation as part of the review of the strategy.”

What do The Wildlife Trusts believe?

We are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer. The scientific evidence demonstrates that culling is likely to be ineffective in fighting the disease and, worse still, risks making the problem even worse.We believe the emphasis of all our efforts should be to find a long-term solution and we are calling for the Government to end its policy of culling badgers.

  • This is a cattle problem, not a badger problem.
    The control of Bovine TB in cattle should be the main focus of everyone’s efforts to control this problem. The evidence shows that badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of TB in cattle: the primary route of infection is via cow-to-cow contact.
  • A vaccine for cattle should be a priority.
    The Government has failed to develop one for TB. UK Cattle are already vaccinated for up to 16 diseases so why should TB be different?
  • The cull is scientifically unsound.
    The results of the previous badger culls indicate that this policy is flawed and unsupported by the evidence. In 2014 scientist and badger expert Rosie Woodroffe deemed the cull ‘scientifically rubbish’ in response to changing Government targets. Culling has been shown to be more expensive, less effective than other Bovine TB (bTB) control mechanisms and the free-shooting of badgers has been shown to be an inhumane method of killing.

There are more resources exploring the science of bTB, the ethics of the cull and ways you can take action on The Wildlife Trusts website


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