Wildlife group calls for end to badger cull

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Cary Johnston

A wildlife group says the culling of badgers is inhumane and is calling for a complete ban on the practice. It comes as the Government considers the feedback from a consultation on the matter, as it decides on the length of future culling licences, which it says are put in place to help prevent the spread of Bovine TB from badgers to cattle.

The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust’s (BBOW) Mammal Project Manager Julia Lofthouse said:

“Badgers are magnificent icons of our countryside and the emblem of the Wildlife Trusts. We cannot stand by and let this needless slaughter happen. Please help us put urgent pressure on the Government to stop the cull right now and not to extend it further. She added:

“We do sympathise with the plight of farmers and know the hardship that Bovine TB causes. But culling badgers is not the answer.

"The Government has seen no definitive benefits from seven years of industry-led culling of badgers in England. The science tells us the main route of Bovine TB transmission is between cattle – not from wildlife such as badgers".

Farmers say badger culling is just one part of the fight against Bovine TB

But many farmers disagree, saying the figures show that badger culling has been effective and is just one part of many strategies that can be employed to fight transmission of Bovine TB from badgers to cattle. Responding to the government consultation, National Farmers Union Deputy President Stuart Roberts said: 

“Bovine TB continues to devastate farming families up and down the country, causing huge strain mentally, emotionally and financially for farmers. Thousands of farms have seen generations of cattle slaughtered because of the disease, crippling their livelihoods instantly. The government’s 25-year TB eradication strategy has provided some real hope to those farmers and it is clearly delivering successful results. The badger cull has played an enormous role in that."

He added: “The government’s own consultation says that incidents of TB in cull areas have dropped by 51% after four years. This clearly shows that the badger culls are working and that it is essential to keep our focus on eradicating this dreadful disease and using every tool in the box to do so."

The Government is also trialling cattle vaccinations, as a possible added solution. Meanwhile, the BBOW has been vaccinating badgers themselves, in a bid to show that culling is unnecessary:

The results of the consultation will now be considered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.