Somerset Wildlife Trust responds to new badger cull licences

Somerset Wildlife Trust responds to new badger cull licences

Badger - Andrew Mason

The new licenses will allow badgers to be shot and killed over the next four years, despite a lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle.

The Wildlife Trusts are disappointed and saddened that the Government has issued new licenses to cull badgers in seven areas of England.

This means that badger culling is now licenced across a total of 61 areas in England, 40 areas carrying out intensive badger culling and 21 areas carrying out supplementary badger culling. Badger culling in Somerset continues and enters its ninth year where up to 7081 badgers could die this autumn.


European badger (Meles meles) adult peering through long grass - Bertie Gregory/2020VISION

Read more about badgers and the cull in Somerset on our 2020 guest blog from Vanessa Mason, Chair of Somerset Badger Group.

Read more

Up to 75,000 badgers could be killed across England this year – taking the total to around 200,000 shot badgers since the cull began.  The new licenses allow badgers to be shot and killed over the next four years in an attempt to control bTb in cattle.

There is still a lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle and a report by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust last year suggested the evidence used is flawed and inaccurate.

 Georgia Stokes, Chief Executive of Somerset Wildlife Trust, says:

“Bovine TB is devastating for our farming community, that’s why we need real solutions. Evidence demonstrates that culling is likely to be ineffective in fighting the disease and makes a bad situation worse by dispersing badgers over a wider area resulting in increased disease transmission where bTB has reached the badger population.”

“Badgers are not the main source of transmission, yet thousands are killed every year. Bovine TB is primarily a cattle disease spread by cattle. Cattle to cattle transmission is the major cause of infection and spread of bovine TB. It is time the government delivered on its commitments to implement a badger vaccination strategy alongside investment in the deployment of a vaccination for cattle against the disease.”

Badger in the evening sunlight

adult badger - Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Earlier this year, the Government committed to issuing no new intensive badger cull licences after 2022 and thousands of people have shared their concerns and called for a more immediate end to the cull.  The Wildlife Trusts are also concerned that the cull in England has inspired plans for a potential badger cull in Northern Ireland for the first time – a huge step backwards in the fight against this devastating cattle disease.  

We continue to call on the Government to do better for our wildlife and our farmers by improving cattle testing, rolling out a cattle vaccine and working with farmers to improve farm biosecurity and in movement of cattle. We call for an immediate end to the killing of badgers.
Georgia Stokes
CEO of Somerset Wildlife Trust

Vanessa Mason, Chair of the Somerset Badger Group says:

"I am truly saddened that the Government has licenced 7 new areas this year increasing the total number of areas in England to 61 with a target of killing nearly 76,000 badgers. Four of these new areas lie within the Edge Area (between bTB High Risk and Low Risk Areas) and the Government’s Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS 2) already provides funding towards the cost of vaccinating badgers with BCG vaccine for four years in these Edge Areas.  It is a great pity that some farmers have opted to cull rather than vaccinate badgers."

She continues: "The Somerset Badger Group continues to support farmers and landowners who wish to vaccinate badgers and we, like many other voluntary groups are committed to continuing to do this as we believe this offers the best protection against any risk of disease transmission between cattle and badgers."

In September 2020, Somerset Wildlife Trust along with Devon and Avon Wildlife Trust and Somerset Badger Group called on all MPs to take action to effectively address bTB and to end the badger cull. You can read that letter here.

We have asked MPs to take these actions, and continue to call for MPs to take these actions:

  • Stop the policy of badger culling.
  • Invest in and rapidly advance the development and deployment of a cattle vaccine.
  • Expand the use of badger vaccination in all risk areas with increased funding and promulgation of the benefits to the farming industry.
  • Introduce an effective and more accurate cattle testing and movement controls regime.
  • Work with and support farmers to develop better farm biosecurity.



Editor’s notes: