Government U-turn on promises to end badger culling

A young adult badger in evening light by Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

We have confirmation of the latest badger cull authorised this autumn by Government. This is the largest ever seasonal cull and will bring the total shot to 35% of the UK’s badger population.

We are staggered and aghast at this news. Not only will this be the largest ever seasonal cull that will result in the deaths of more than 70,000 healthy badgers, but this will include badgers that have been vaccinated by volunteers in Government-funded programmes in counties such as Derbyshire. 

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

We are at a critical turning point for our natural world and this U-turn should set alarm bells ringing — culling is an outdated policy that seeks to eradicate protected wildlife rather than addressing the real problem that is the main cause of bovine tuberculosis (bTB): cattle-to-cattle infection

Recent news that investment in a cattle vaccine is underway is welcome — but it is not enough. Moving the culling into areas where badger vaccinations have been taking place will also undermine this vital and under-funded work.

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. Where culls are taking place, Wildlife Trusts will not allow culling on their nature reserves.

Find out more about what The Wildlife Trusts are doing and how you can help.