Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Licensing of new cull zones set to further devastate badger populations

11 September 2017

Categories: Homepage News, UK Wildlife News

Natural England has issued licences for 11 new badger culling zones as part of the Government’s policy aimed at controlling bovine TB in cattle, bringing the total number of licensed areas to 21.

Cull companies will be able to shoot a total of more than 25,000 badgers in the newly licensed zones this year, which are located across parts of Cheshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon. This, alongside continued culling in existing licensed zones, could bring the total number of badgers shot under the policy by the end of 2017 to almost 50,000.

In response to the news, Vet and Born Free’s Associate Director Mark Jones said: “New licences had been widely anticipated this year, but the numbers involved are simply staggering. The Government, with the support of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), is clearly determined to continue blaming badgers for a disease of the cattle industry’s own making, with little heed for science, evidence, or the animal suffering that will inevitably result. Individual badgers, their families and social groups are set to suffer death and disruption at a much increased scale. Some of these populations may never fully recover.”

In addition to new licenses and the continuation of culls in existing areas, the original ‘pilot cull zones’ in Gloucestershire and Somerset, which completed their four years of licenced culls last year, have been issued ‘supplementary licenses’ which will allow landowners in those areas to continue targeting badgers for a further five years, and perhaps beyond, with very little if any oversight.

Jones continued: “There is no evidence whatsoever that four years of culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset have had any real impact on bovine TB in cattle, nor that further culling is likely to make a big difference, yet surviving badgers in those beleaguered populations will continue to be targeted. The BVA’s concerns about lack of evidence and oversight and the humaneness of culling methods have gone entirely unanswered, yet the very organisation that is supposed to have animal welfare at its core continues to support this pointless massacre. The Government doubtless has its own political motivations for allowing this tragedy to continue. The veterinary profession should surely know better.”


Born Free's founder Virginia McKenna OBE said: “ I am virtually speechless. How can any Government think that en masse killing of a species will eliminate a problem, when it has not been conclusively proven that the species is the cause? If the matter was so urgent, why was the development of a vaccine for the cattle not continued as a matter of urgency? This planned slaughter of over 30,000 badgers is as deeply shocking as it is inhumane."

Born Free continues to engage with senior vets and government ministers and officials to bring the culls to an end and encourage the adoption of alternative humane and effective ways of managing bovine TB.

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