Badger culling licences granted for Lincolnshire and Derbyshire

70,000 badgers could be killed in England this year.
70,000 badgers could be killed in England this year. Credit: PA

Badger culling licences for Lincolnshire and Derbyshire have been granted as part of efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle. 

The two counties are among 11 new areas given licences by the Government agency Natural England.

They have also re-introduced licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place in previous years.

It means up to 70,000 badgers could be killed this year as part of efforts to control TB in livestock, which can catch the disease from the wild animals.

The latest expansion of the cull comes despite the Government signalling its intention to gradually phase out badger culling to tackle TB in livestock.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers over £100 million every year.

"No-one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.

"That is why we are accelerating other elements of our strategy, including vaccination and improved testing, so that we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling in England."

Culling licences have been granted in Lincolnshire and Derbyshire Credit: PA

The Government has been pushing ahead with efforts to roll out an effective vaccine against the disease for cattle.

In March, it also said there were plans to vaccinate more badgers and for a "gradual phasing out of intensive culling" of the wild animals beginning in the next few years.

Animal welfare charity, the RSPCA says it is ‘appalled’ by the decision.

Adam Grogan, Head of the RSPCA’s wildlife department said: 

“We are shocked that the Government is stepping up its inhumane and ineffective badger cull despite its recently announced commitment to “government-supported badger vaccination and surveillance”.

 “Earlier this year, the Government in England gave a clear commitment to support and develop badger vaccination programmes as a way of controlling bovine TB in cattle.  

 “The proposed licensing of cull areas in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire go against this commitment.”

The Government had promised to stop badger culling Credit: PA

Wildlife groups reacted angrily to the expansion of the cull that has now been announced.

Dr Jo Smith, chief executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, which is running a badger vaccination scheme, labelled it as a "staggering Government U-turn".

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

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust, said the culling policy could push the species to the verge of local extinction in areas it has inhabited since the Ice Age.

"This is no longer a badger control policy, it's a badger eradication exercise," he said.

The 11 new areas are:

  • Lincolnshire

  • Wiltshire

  • Warwickshire

  • Somerset

  • Shropshire

  • Oxfordshire

  • Leicestershire

  • Herefordshire

  • Gloucestershire

  • Derbyshire

  • Avon