Badger Trust condemns Government spin on badger licences as cull set to start once more

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Government tries a 'good news for badgers' subterfuge, announcing cull plans on same day 10 new licences, the maximum allowed, are released

Badger Trust has condemned the Government for once again attempting a 'good news for badgers' subterfuge, with the latest announcement on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) policy being announced on the same day that 10 new cull licences – the maximum number allowed – were released. On 27 May 2021 the Government announced it will ultimately proceed with proposals set out in a public consultation earlier this year, and claimed 'licences of new intensive culls set to end in 2022 after a significant reduction in the disease'.

However, Badger Trust believes what the Government has done is push out this 'good news' on the same day it has released 10 new supplementary cull licences – on top of the 10 already in place – which start the cull activity for 2021. This is the same approach as the bTB consultation, announced on 27 January 2021 as the 'good news', followed by the publication of the bad news, the 2020 cull figures. These figures showed 38,642 badgers were killed in one year, the highest number since the current cull began in 2013, taking the total to date to over 140,000. The charity fundamentally refutes that badger culling makes a significant difference as a tool for combatting bTB in cattle, which is primarily caused by cattle-to-cattle transmission.

Dawn Varley, Acting CEO of Badger Trust, said: 'We're underwhelmed at this announcement, as in reality it does little to change the immediate future for badgers.

Whilst the Government wants the headline to be that cull licences cease from 2022, in reality, those mass culling licences will run to 2025, killing another 140,000 badgers before this flawed policy ends. Combined with those licences already in play, we estimate they're only halfway through killing badgers.

She continued: 'We're also sceptical of the 'investment' in badger vaccinations, as this is a five-year pilot in one area only with hardly any cattle, that just delays a more extensive roll-out. It's baffling that the Government makes so much fanfare of its vaccination trial when in Derbyshire a multi-year project is already underway to vaccinate badgers (and which controversially now has badgers culled in close proximity), and likewise a project in Cornwall, but the Government doesn't appear to be interested in what has already been achieved so far.'

'Until the Government switches its focus to the cattle-to-cattle transmission of bTB, rather than blaming badgers, we see little to celebrate in this latest policy move. Sadly badgers continue to be the scapegoat for a failed approach to controlling bTB, and the senseless slaughter continues next week when the cull starts once more.'

Background Information:

Defra announcement -

Licence publication -

'Natural England has licensed and authorised 10 new supplementary badger control areas to begin operations in 2021. It has also authorised the licence holders to resume operations in 10 existing supplementary badger control in 2021. Licence holders met all the criteria specified in Defra’s guidance to Natural England, dated August 2020.'

Badger Trust headline response to Government consultation in March 2021 -

Badger Trust full response to consultation 24 March 2021 -