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Badgers and Bovine TB



Bovine TB (bTB) costs the UK millions of pounds every year and The Wildlife Trusts recognise the hardship that it causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease.

However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer. We believe the Government should put biosecurity and vaccination at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease rather than a badger cull.

The Wildlife Trusts recommendation to Defra

The Wildlife Trusts believe that Defra should pursue the following as a matter of priority:

  • Support landowners to improve on-farm biosecurity and the deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine;
  • Continue to develop an oral vaccine for badgers;
  • Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.

This briefing on Bovine TB and Vaccination explains why The Wildlife Trusts believe biosecurity and vaccination should be at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease.


This page responds to some of the most commonly asked questions about badgers and Bovine TB.

News updates

24/03/14 - Drop the cull: the problem is bovineTB not badgers

Despite strong public opposition, a string of Government failures and MP recognition that an alternative strategy to deal with bovineTB is needed, plans to continue - and extend - badger culling - are expected this week. The Wildlife Trusts today launch an appeal aimed at the Prime Minister to bolster support for alternatives. Read more here.

14/03/14 - MPs vote en masse to drop the cull

MPs today overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the Government to drop culling and instead vaccinate badgers. Read more here.

11/02/14 - Badgers and bovineTB: Why the Government’s policy needs to change

Badger culling must be dropped from Government plans and priority given to a strategic vaccination programme. Read more here.

05/11/13 - Pilot badger culls fail

Results from the extended pilot badger cull in Somerset - out today - confirm a complete failure to meet required targets and should lead the Government to abandon its culling policy. Read more here.

24/10/13 - Pilot badger culls extending with no scientific justification

Natural England yesterday (23/10) announced it will be extending the badger cull in Gloucestershire. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the granting of extensions to licences to cull is simply not justifiable. Read more here.

09/10/13 - Government must drop badger culling policy

With an extension period now under consideration for the pilot badger cull in Somerset, The Wildlife Trusts believe the failure to meet required targets should lead the Government to abandon its culling policy.  Read more here.

08/10/13 - Six week cull trial

Despite strenuous on-going efforts to halt the Government’s badger cull, through lobbying nationally and within Somerset, the cull started on the evening of August 26 and ran for six weeks in west Somerset. More information here.

26/08/2013 - Badger cull underway

As the first shots of the badger cull are reported in West Somerset, Somerset Wildlife Trust warns that culling is a tragic distraction to tackling a devastating disease. More information here.

No winners in badger cull vote

June 6: The results of the Opposition debate - calling on the Government to stop the cull of badgers - were not a surprise as there was a three line whip.  MPs voted in favour of a badger cull by 298 votes to 237.  In October 2012 in a free vote MPs voted against a badger cull. Read our response.

Final authorisation of badger control licences in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset

Feb 27: Natural England has today confirmed that all criteria have been met to allow control of badgers to begin in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset.

Read the Natural England announcement

Read the Wildlife Trust's response.

Colleagues at Dorset Wildlife Trust, which has been named as a reserve pilot area, issued this statement.

What you can do

  • Email your MP to ask them to call for the cull to be stopped
    MPs voted against the cull on 25 October but the vote was not binding on the Government. Email your local MP to ask them to continue to put pressure on the Government to scrap their cull plans and prioritise badger vaccination. We have produced this template letter to give you some ideas, but it is much better if you can personalise it with your own thoughts. You can find out if your MP spoke or voted in the debate on 25 October here.
  • Email your MEP (find their details) to ask them to press for the EU ban on a cattle vaccine to be lifted
    A cattle vaccine is the long term solution to the bTB problem, but EU rules currently prevent it from being tested and used in this country. Find out why here.

  • Sign the government epetition
    The petition has now passed 225,000 signatures. But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing and sharing the link to hit 1million Thank-you to everyone that signed the epetition - it reached more than 300,000 signatures and is now closed. 

  • Become a member of Somerset Wildlife Trust and stand up for local wildlife with us
  • Make a donation in support of our work to protect badgers. Donations will be used to train staff, monitor setts and vaccinate active setts on reserves in the cull area.

Click on the tab above for more about "BadgerCull v Vaccination"

Badger Cull v Vaccination

How could a badger cull make the bovine TB problem worse?

BadgerBadgers typically live in social groups of four to seven animals with defined territorial boundaries. Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, causing surviving badgers to range more widely than normal and increasing the risks of disease transmission.

This is known as the 'perturbation effect' and you can download The Wildlife Trust leaflet which explains more about this.


In December 2011 the Government announced its intention to go ahead with a cull of badgers in two pilot areas in England, including parts of West Somerset and  Gloucestershire.

The Wildlife Trusts are taking the lead in using vaccination to address the problem of bovine TB. During 2011, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust pioneered a badger vaccination programme on its nature reserves.

Somerset Wildlife Trust

Somerset Wildlife Trust plans to vaccinate badgers, where there is an active sett on our nature reserves that fall within the trial cull area, to ensure the Trust plays its part in controlling the reservoir of disease in badgers on Trust land.

Until the exact area of the cull zone is published by the government’s environment department Defra, we are unable to confirm exactly how many, or which, of our nature reserves are likely to be affected.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has been involved in bovine TB for over 30 years. Last year Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first non-governmental organisation to begin deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine on seven of its nature reserves.

You can read more about Gloucestershire’s extensive work on badgers and bovine TB,  including a report on the outcomes from the first year of the vaccination programme, on the Trust’s web pages