The badger cull update
The UK Government are currently discussing when to stop issuing licenses for the Badger Cull. If they delay until 2022 as proposed, we could see the death of at least 130,000 more badgers.
Somerset Wildlife Trust opposes the badger cull and does not allow badger culling on its land. In line with other Wildlife Trusts, we think that the Government’s plan to phase out the badger cull means that no further cull licenses should be granted.
We stand with farmers in wanting a solution to the devasting impact of TB. Cattle vaccination offers the best long term approach to reducing TB in the cattle population across Somerset, creating a sustainable future for our cattle, wildlife and farmers.
Recent Government proposals suggested an end to granting cull licenses in 2022, but this could still result in another 130,000 badgers being killed over the next four years. We think that the Government should stop issuing badger cull licences immediately and implement a cattle vaccine. Cattle vaccination offers the best long-term way to reduce bovine TB in the cattle population.
We regularly ask MPs to review the badger culling policy both locally and nationally in collaboration with other Wildlife Trusts. We are very disappointed at the suggestion that culling licenses will be granted until 2022 meaning that badger culling could continue until 2026.
Please visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/stand-up-for-badgers to respond to the Government consultation on the badger cull – before 24 March 2021.
We understand the issues
We do understand the devastation an outbreak of bovine Tb can cause for farmers and rural communities and the hardship it causes.
We need to work collectively to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. We support all non lethal, scientifically based measures for tackling bovine TB in cattle and wildlife. Our involvement with this issue over a long period, and the results of previous culling trials, have led us to conclude that a range of responses are needed to tackle bTB and we therefore call upon the Government to stop the cull and;
- accelerate all efforts into researching, trialling, investing in and licensing a usable vaccine for cattle (already vaccinated for 16 other diseases)
- support farmers to carry out better bovine TB testing for cattle (current testing is inaccurate – up to 1 in 5 infected cows are mistakenly cleared as TB-free and returned to the herd, thus potentially infecting further animals)
- help reduce cow to cow infections by tightening movement controls on cattle
- support farmers to ensure higher standards of biosecurity measures on their farms
- implement a properly funded and resourced badger vaccination strategy
We need to work together to find meaningful solutions
The issue of bovine TB is complex. We believe that one of the most negative impacts of the government’s current policy of badger culling is the way it has polarised the issue of bTB in the countryside. In order to find a solution to a disease that infects both farmed animals and wildlife, it is essential that farmers and landowners can work together with animal health, welfare and conservation organisations. The ongoing badger culls make this positive approach less likely to occur. Somerset Wildlife Trust is firmly opposed to any action taken by members of the public which has the effect of intimidating farmers, landowners and their families.
Research relating to badgers and bovine TB
Below are some selected independent research papers and reports relating to badgers and bovine TB. This is not a comprehensive list.
Research relating to badgers and bovine TB
- Winkler, B., Mathews, F. (2015) Environmental risk factors associated with bovine tuberculosis among cattle in high-risk areas, Biol. Lett. 2015 11 20150536; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0536. Published 11 November 2015
- Bielby, J., Donnelly, C.A., Pope, L.C., Burke, T & Woodroffe, R. (2014) Badger responses to small-scale culling may compromise targeted control of bovine tuberculosis. PNAS 111: 9193-9198.
- Godfray, H.C.J., Donnelly, C.A., Kao, R.R., Macdonald, D.W., McDonald, R.A., Petrokofsky, G., Wood, J.L.N., Woodroffe, R., Young D.B., & McLean, A.R. (2013). A restatement of the natural science evidence base relevant to the control of bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B 280: 20131634.
- Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C. A., Cox, D. R., Bourne, F. J., Cheeseman, C. L., Delahay, R. J., Gettinby, G., Mcinerney, J. P. and Morrison, W. I. (2006), Effects of culling on badger Meles meles spatial organization: implications for the control of bovine tuberculosis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43: 1-10. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01144.x
- Woodroffe, R., Donnelly, C. A., Jenkins, H. E., Thomas Johnston, W., Cox, D. R., F., Bourne, J., Cheeseman, C. L., Delahay, R. J., Clifton-Hadley, R. S., Gettinby, G., Gilks, P., Hewinson, R.G., McInerney, J. P., Morrison, W. I. (2006) Culling and cattle controls influence tuberculosis risk for badgers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Oct 2006, 103 (40) 14713-14717; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0606251103
- Bielby J, Donnelly CA, Pope LC, Burke T, Woodroffe R. (2014) Badger responses to small-scale culling may compromise targeted control of bovine tuberculosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014;111(25):9193-9198. doi:10.1073/pnas.1401503111.
- Animal & Plant Health Agency. Report on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in 2013 – 2016. Three years’ follow - up in areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire and one year of follow - up in Dorset of industry - led badger control. September 2017
- Bovine TB: The Scientific Evidence (2007) Final Report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB
- Pilot Badger Culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire Report by the Independent Expert Panel (2014)
- AHVLA Monitoring the efficacy of badger population reduction by controlled shooting during the first six weeks of the pilots (Report to Defra) (2014)
- Donnelly C. A., Nouvellet P. (2013) The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in England. PLOS Currents Outbreaks. 2013 Oct 10 . Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.outbreaks.097a904d3f3619db2fe78d24bc776098.
- Defra response: Pilot Badger Culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire: Report by the Independent Expert Panel (April 2014)
More on Defra's latest proposals
Defra’s latest proposals for bovine TB eradication in England are currently out for consultation and include plans to change the badger cull policy and cattle testing regimes. What do these proposals mean for farmers, cattle and badgers?
Want to learn more about badgers?
The Somerset Badger Group is committed to conserving, protecting and promoting badgers, their habitats and resting places, along with other native wildlife.