Close up of a badger standing up facing the camera

Badger Culling

Born Free opposes the UK government’s policy of badger culling as part of its efforts to control bovine TB in cattle, because it is unscientific, inhumane, ineffective and unnecessary.

Badger Culling in the UK

The Westminster government has adopted culling of badgers under licence as part of its strategy to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in England, a disease which results in the premature slaughter of tens of thousands of farmed cattle each year. By the end of 2022, more than 210,000 badgers had been killed across 72 licensed areas, almost three quarters of which were targeted using ‘controlled shooting’ a method considered inhumane by veterinary authorities and the government’s own appointed advisory body. The overwhelming majority of these badgers will have been perfectly healthy.

A comprehensive analysis of government data published in the prestigious journal Veterinary Record in March 2022, co-authored by Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones, found that badger culling has had no significant impact on the incidence of bTB among cattle herds.

In spite of this, and statements from government that the policy will be phased out, under current proposals the numbers of badgers killed could continue to rise in the coming years, and badgers could disappear altogether across large swathes of the English countryside where they have lived since the ice age, with significant impacts on the wider ecology.

While recognising that the impact of bTB and the measures aimed at controlling it can be devastating for farmers and their businesses and come at a significant cost to the taxpayer, Born Free opposes the policy of badger culling on the grounds that it is unscientific, and that culling is ineffective, inhumane and unnecessary.

Born Free works with partner organisations, veterinary authorities, decision-makers and the wider public to promote evidence-based wildlife management that focuses on minimising negative animal welfare and conservation impacts, and promotes alternative, humane approaches to bTB control that do not involve lethal wildlife interventions.

Defra release new details of badger culling in 2023



Close up of a badger with leaves in the foreground

Help us end badger culling

Sign our petition to urge the British government to end the inhumane, ineffective and unscientific culling of badgers, and to instead implement humane, evidence-based and effective cattle-focused policies aimed at reducing bovine TB in cattle.

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