Last Updated on 30 August 2023 by Badger
No let up in intensive badger cull as England nears a quarter of a million badgers killed.
Government intensifies mass badger culling this week and backtracks from plans to stop in 2025.
2023 marks the eleventh consecutive year of England’s controversial badger cull, the cornerstone of the government’s flawed and wasteful bovine tuberculosis (bTB) control strategy, and this week marks an intensification of the cull.
Badgers have undergone an unprecedented campaign of eradication since 2013, resulting in the needless death of more than 210,000 individuals. This intensive culling of a protected species amounts to around half the badger population, and reports of local extinction events are occurring in high cull areas such as Gloucestershire and Somerset. Badgers have been vilified in the debate around bTB, despite bTB being mainly spread from cattle to cattle (one of the most significant health and economic risks to British cattle farming).
The government had committed to end the badger cull by 2025 and focus on more effective cattle-based measures, supplemented by a badger vaccination programme. However, they now say they plan to consult on introducing more culling. This is against the backdrop that they have not even tested the badgers they have killed already for bTB, whilst cattle are only killed if they have the disease.
Speaking of the continued culling, Executive Director of Badger Trust, Peter Hambly, explains:
“The government continues to use the badger as a scapegoat for not taking more decisive cattle-based action on bTB. They don’t test the thousands of badgers they kill each year, yet they only cull cattle proven to have the disease.
They have killed half of the country’s badgers in little more than a decade with scant evidence that they are even carrying bTB, and now have plans to kill even more. This toxic policy is an assault on nature on a timescale unprecedented in our history.
“The plans to consult on more badger culling, despite previously saying they would stop in 2025, is outrageous – they are obsessed with culling badgers. The answer to solving bTB lies with cattle, and it is cattle-based measures that are bringing down bTB rates. England’s cattle-to-cattle disease transmission problem must be resolved through cattle-focused measures such as improved cattle testing and vaccination, enhanced biosecurity and controlling cattle movements.
Finally, the fact Wales and Scotland don’t cull badgers but get better results on bTB shows that England continues to kill badgers for the sake of it rather than for any good science-based reason. It’s time to end the badger cull now.”
Badger Culling is an Animal Welfare Nightmare
Under cull licences, badgers will either be cage-trapped and then shot, or ‘controlled shooting’ will be allowed on free-running badgers. Since the cull started in 2013, the number of badgers shot whilst free running has increased to nearly 9 out of 10 badger victims.
Free shooting is inhumane, and in 2015 the British Veterinary Association (BVA) called for free shooting to end due to the significant animal welfare implications. Free shooting leaves injured animals to die slowly from the wounds and subsequent infection. Again, we see that the government has ignored the advice of expert knowledge in a pursuit to continue its unethical campaign against Britain’s last remaining large carnivore.
Britain is already one of the most wildlife-depleted countries on Earth and cannot afford to lose more native species. It’s been over a decade of death; when will the onslaught stop?
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To find out more badger cull facts, solutions to the problem of bovine TB, and what we Badger Trust does to campaign to End the Cull, visit the Badger Trust badger cull information page.