Badger cull verdict awaited


badger (credit sure2talk)

The latest judicial review into the proposed plans to shoot badgers to try and control the spread of disease came to an end yesterday at the High Court in London. It’s expected that the outcome will not be known for a month or possibly more.

The badger cull in England comes at a time that Wales has turned away from culling as the solution to control of bovine TB and is undertaking a large-scale vaccination trial. Previous trials of culling has demonstrated that killing badgers is not an effective way of controlling the spread of bovine TB. [pullquote]Enough animals have already died. Bovine TB should be tackled by improved biosecurity and cattle controls, together with a change in European law to enable the vaccination of cattle as well as badgers[/pullquote]

Local badger groups together with the Badger Trust and its individual supporters are actively involved in developing a badger vaccination service. They are now calling on the UK Coalition Government to follow the lead of the Welsh Government and fund vaccination instead of pointlessly killing wildlife and making matters worse at great cost to farmers and the taxpayer.

Not only the Badger Trust but local Badger Groups and their supporters across the UK and Ireland have financed the entire expense of the legal challenge to the proposed cull.

In addition, they have enjoyed the support of scientists, wildlife organisations and concerned individuals. The Badger Trust claims that whatever the legal outcome the science remains clear: killing badgers could make no meaningful contribution to the eradication of the disease in the UK, and cattle measures, rigorously applied, would be sufficient.

David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “Whatever the result of this judicial review we could have done nothing other than try our utmost to have this pointless policy scrapped, particularly because detailed, fully-validated science has revealed the serious risk of making a bad situation worse. None of this was known 40 years ago when the prejudice against badgers began, and none of the evidence that has emerged since has altered the deep-rooted attitudes of a strident section of the agricultural industry. At least 40,000 badgers in England could be facing extermination over the next four years.

Astrophysicist Dr. Brian May – Founder of Save Me, and a legendary rock star – is a passionate advocate for animal welfare and a staunch supporter of the Badger Trust. He said: “We are all hoping that the action brought by the Badger Trust will save the badger population from the merciless slaughter proposed by the Coalition Government in England. Enough animals have already died. Bovine TB should be tackled by improved biosecurity and cattle controls, together with a change in European law to enable the vaccination of cattle as well as badgers”.

Posted in Animal, Farming and tagged , , .
Subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly digest of wildlife news from around the world


  1. You state that..
    “The Badger Trust claims that whatever the legal outcome the science remains clear: killing badgers could make no meaningful contribution to the eradication of the disease in the UK, and cattle measures, rigorously applied, would be sufficient.”
    This is not just Badger Trust saying so. It is the exact conclusion of a ten year, £50000000 trial, the only scientific evidence ever produced on the matter.

    • Is it even necessary to cull badgers? Do they spread TB?

      When farmers moved untested cattle around the country to replenish stock after Foot and Mouth, strains of TB in the South West started to appear in counties such as Cumbria. This admirably illustrates how cattle-to-cattle transmission is so influential. Cumbria was by far the worst affected county by Foot and Mouth. In fact as a result of Foot and Mouth, cattle numbers in Cumbria in 2001 were half what they were in 2000. Untested, TB-carrying cattle from various parts of the country were moved into Cumbria to fill this void. As expected, this has caused levels of TB to absolutely rocket up in Cumbria as a result of cattle-to-cattle transmission. In fact, levels of TB in Cumbria are now comparable to what they are in the South West.

      Errr, well no, actually they are not. Although disease levels did start to rise after so many TB-carrying cattle were moved around the country, they have now largely recovered. As a result of this, cattle in the vast majority of parishes in Cumbria are still only tested once every 4 years whereas in Devon all cattle are tested once every year. I am now really confused. Perhaps we need to drop this argument and find another one. There is no doubt that cattle-to-cattle transmission is the major factor for transmitting TB over long distances but it would be absolutely brilliant if we could find a plausible argument for why cattle-to-cattle transmission is dominant in counties such as Gloucestershire where levels of bovine TB have been the highest in the country for decades.

      Does anyone know an argument which would apply to Gloucestershire and to Devon, Dyfed, Hereford and Worcester for that matter? It does not have to be a good explanation just so long as it is half convincing and takes the heat off of our poor badgers which are being scapegoated in these areas. Most of us lead busy lives and we just have not got the time to look into why such an explanation may not apply so we are easily convinced. Anyway we do not need to justify this on scientific terms at all because badger culling is morally wrong and just has to be stopped. The only important criteria is that the arguments must support our view and sound sufficiently convincing to swing the opinion of others.

      PS. I think we also need to take the spotlight off what is happening in the Irish Republic – either that or ignore the last 4 years. In fact why not continue to emphasis what happened back in 2007 when bovine TB levels increased in the republic and dropped in the north. It goes without saying that we should also ignore the continuing benefits of reduced cattle TB over the last 6 years due to the culling performed in the RBCT. Obviously we very much want to continue to broadcast the very powerful statements made in FJ Bourne’s covering letter when the RBCT final report was submitted in 2007. For anyone who is unaware of them they are as follows.

      Badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.


      Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone.

      Although these statements take no account of the continuing benefits from the RBCT and offer no explanation for why TB levels have not recovered in the South West whilst they have in Cumbria, that does not matter, because they support our cause so well.

      • Hi

        For me the reason to not go ahead with the badger cull is not so much the scientific data – which I think is strong against the effectiveness of a cull, it’s more about wildlife conservation.

        Will the UK have the moral right to expect African countries not to kill their lions and elephants which have a major impact on African farmers if we can not find a way of protecting our farmers without the need to wipe out large numbers of one of our largest badgers that is fully protected by law.

        Sometimes it’s not just a question of costs but about the example that we are setting for others.


        • I think it is a question of balance. The badger is not an endangered species, has good potential to recover because of favourable habitat and will only be culled in areas where infection levels are high. In fact culling it in areas outside specific areas in the South West and Wales would serve no purpose and is not proposed.

          Regarding the badgers protection status that is up to up to the discretion of the government. In fact according to a report published in 1997 by the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Britain was the only country to have legislation that dealt specifically with badgers. In fact the report states that France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Romania and Bulgaria permit hunting during an open season. Since then Hungary and Luxembourg may have joined that list as well because in 1997 they were reconsidering their position.

  2. You describe the Welsh vaccination trial as large scale. However it is small scale compared to the RBCT for which the area was over 3 times greater. This and the fact that areas in the RBCT were split up mean that the vaccination trial will have to be conducted over a much longer period of time, before effects can be properly attributed to the vaccine. If other large areas are not brought into the programme, most farmers in business today will have either retired or gone out of business before the impact of the vaccine is known.

Comments are closed.