16 December 2016

On 16th December 2016 the government revealed that during Autumn, 10,886 badgers were killed across 10 licensed cull zones in 6 counties in the West and South West of England, bringing the total numbers of badgers killed under license in England to almost 15,000 since culling began in 2013.

Of the badgers killed in 2016, over half were killed by so-called ‘controlled shooting’ (targeting free-roaming badgers at bait points with rifles at night); the remainder were trapped in cages and shot some hours later. 

In response to the news, veterinarian and Born Free’s Associate Director for UK Wildlife Mark Jones said: 

“The government continues to pursue and expand a policy of widespread badger culling in England using inhumane methods, in spite of a wealth of evidence clearly demonstrating that the deaths of these animals will make little if any difference to the control of bovine TB in cattle. Indeed recent research shows that cattle and badgers actively avoid each other, and that cattle tend to avoid areas frequented by badgers, further highlighting the lack of any evidence for badgers being a significant source of bovine TB for cattle. If the government continues with this policy, tens of thousands more badgers will be killed in the coming years for no good reason, and at a huge cost to farmers and the taxpayer. This politically-motivated government-licensed wildlife massacre must stop.”

Working with our partners at the Badger Trust and other wildlife organisations, the Born Free Foundation is focussed on persuading veterinary authorities that culling badgers is ineffective and inhumane, and that organisations such as the British Veterinary Association (BVA) shouldn’t be supporting the government’s policy in England.

“The BVA says it supports culling in ‘carefully selected areas where badgers are regarded as a significant contributor to the high incidence of bTB in cattle’, and that it rejects so-called ‘controlled shooting’ because of a lack of evidence for its humaneness”, continued Jones. “Yet the BVA continues to support the government’s policy of licensing landowners, farmers and their agents to conduct indiscriminate mass killing over wide areas including by controlled shooting, with absolutely no evidence that these areas have been carefully selected or that badgers within them pose a significant risk. The BVA has even been lobbying for the introduction of this heinous policy in Wales, where the roll-out of cattle measures and the targeted use of badger vaccination are showing far better results in terms of controlling TB in cattle, without killing wildlife. I’m sad to say that in my opinion the BVA’s continued support for culling, and that of the Chief Veterinary Officer at DEFRA, undermines my profession’s credibility as an animal welfare and evidence-driven profession.”

The Born Free Foundation will continue to oppose badger culls, while advocating stricter controls over cattle husbandry, testing and trade in order to control the spread of disease.

Official data on the 2016 badger culls can be found at: 

Please sign Simon King’s e-petition against the culling of badgers at: 



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