Kate on Conservation

Thousands of badgers to be killed in 7 new areas despite government promise

badgers running in the forest

Badger culling will be extended to seven new areas in England this year, despite previous Government promises to implement a cattle vaccine for the disease. Licenses have now been issued to cull badgers in 33 existing areas, plus the seven new areas for 2021.

This means that up to 75,000 badgers could be killed across England this year – taking the total to around 200,000 badgers shot since the cull began.  

badger attack

The new licenses allow badgers to be shot and killed over the next four years in an attempt to control bovine TB in cattle.

However, there is still a lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle and a report by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust last year suggested the evidence used is flawed and inaccurate.

The Government must fulfil its commitment to ending new cull licenses

Earlier this year, the Government committed to issuing no new intensive badger cull licences after 2022 and thousands of people have shared their concerns and called for a more immediate end to the cull.

born free foundation and the badger trust
Dominic Dyer speaks at a protest march against the badger cull

Culling is outdated, ineffective and immoral. It is clear that it does not address the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB which is cattle-to-cattle transmission, and it undermines vaccination programmes.

The Wildlife Trusts are also concerned that the cull in England has inspired plans for a potential badger cull in Northern Ireland for the first time – a huge step backwards in the fight against this devastating cattle disease.

Sticking to the science

Jo Smith, chief executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, says: “The main cause of bovine TB is from cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are not the main culprit yet thousands are killed every year.”

Badger Meles meles Portrait of an adult badger backlit by evening sunlight
Photo credit: C Andrew Parkinson

“For years, The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of vaccinating badgers. It is now time for Government to step up its commitment and implement a badger vaccination strategy alongside the deployment of a vaccination for cattle against the disease.”

This government has repeatedly said it will be guided by the science, yet it seems to be ignoring its own advice.

badger vaccination
Badger vaccination programme in action

Jo Smith continues: “We continue to call on the Government to end the killing of badgers to fight bovine TB in cattle and ask for robust measures that will see better cattle testing, roll out of a cattle vaccine and stricter movement control of cattle. Our protected wildlife, our farmers and the dairy industry deserve much better.”

For more information on supporting the badger this National Badger Day, visit: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/saving-species/badgers

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6 thoughts on “Thousands of badgers to be killed in 7 new areas despite government promise

    1. It remains to be seen whether any new licenses will be issued next year, but this is not a good early indicator, and I’m sure many hoped for a ‘winding down’ approach for 2021.

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for raising this and bringing it to the attention of many others. But many more than 200,000 have been killed since the cull began in the 1970s. Yes, it’s been going on that long! They were gassed then, and we don’t know how many perished under ground and horrifically cruelly with hydrogen cyanide. Since then cage-trapping went on through the 80s and 90s. Summarised in my book ‘The Fate of the Badger’. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for the clarification. It’s horrendous to think of the suffering these poor creatures have been subjected to. Gassing underground — it’s unthinkable!

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