London Wildlife Trust is deeply concerned that recent government proposals – set out in three consultations – indicate an intention to increase badger culling further, by expanding culling into Low Risk Areas in England and ‘Edge Areas’, and increasing the number of new cull zones that could be licensed each year.
The Wildlife Trusts have actively opposed the badger cull since 2004. In our opinion, there is no conclusive evidence to demonstrate that culling badgers decreases the incidence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle.
Long-term trials by the Government showed that culling could actually make the situation worse by encouraging badgers to move around – the ‘perturbation effect’. We are very mindful that bTB can have a devastating financial and emotional impact on the lives of farmers and The Wildlife Trusts want to find solutions that work for everyone.
These new consultations come within days of a Government announcement that they intend to review their strategy for achieving ‘Bovine Tuberculosis Free Status for England’. The current strategy has resulted in over 34,000 badgers being culled without conclusive evidence that culling is having an impact on decreasing bTB in cattle.
Culling has been shown to be ineffective, inhumane and expensive compared to alternatives, like badger vaccination, which is a more effective method to stop the spread of bTB. We also suspect that culling legitimises the illegal killing of badgers elsewhere. Even in London, we have seen suggestions of digging and baiting activity in one of our nature reserves.
The members of the review panel are yet to be made public, but we hope the this review offers the Government the opportunity to revisit a scientifically flawed policy, which flies in the face of public opinion, is deeply inhumane, costly, thoroughly unscientific and gives farmers a poor deal, too.
The Wildlife Trusts continue to work with Defra in planning and delivering the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme 2, but the Government’s consultation on whether to extend the license for badger culls undermines the logic of the vaccination scheme.
We will be responding to the government consultations. They are technical consultations, but if you feel you can respond, please do. They are available here:
We sincerely hope that these consultations and the review will help us to reach an end to the cull, in favour of strategic and widespread badger vaccination schemes, and of investment in developing a cattle vaccine.
To read more about The Wildlife Trusts’ views on bovine Tb and the badger cull, and badger vaccination work visit: wildlifetrusts.org/badgers