Badger Trust criticises Defra badger cull challenge response as ‘meaningless’

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

Badger Trust claims the Defra response to its cull challenge is ‘meaningless’ and exposes lack of a serious policy to control bTB.

The charity has criticised a response from the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to its in-depth challenge to the ongoing badger cull as ‘meaningless’. The response, from Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Under Secretary of State, amounts to nothing more than a ‘same old, same old’ response which fails to seriously address matters raised.

The letter, dated 6 January 2021, was in response to a Badger Trust letter* sent to the Secretary of State, George Eustice, on 26 June 2020 and supported by the RSPCA, Born Free, IFAW, Wild Justice and the League against Cruel Sports. The letter made seven key calls to the Government, including:

  • halting any new cull licences in the Edge or Low Risk Areas

  • ensuring farmers move to badger vaccination after four-year cull licences end in High Risk Areas

  • the implementation of a National Badger Vaccination Strategy

Jo Bates-Keegan, Chair of Badger Trust, commented:

‘Once again we see a response with the same old platitudes and soundbites being rolled out. The vagueness is astounding, exposing what surely is a lack of a real plan, which in itself is unsurprising given that the badger cull to date has failed to deliver any robust results.’

She continued: ‘Lord Gardiner attempted to answer our question on future plans for the cull by writing: 'We envisage that any remaining areas would join the current cull programme in the next few years and that the badger cull phase of the strategy would then wind down by the mid to late 2020s…’ This is ‘back of a fag packet’ planning at best; at worst it seems to confirm an agenda for cull expansion that could continue rolling for the rest of the decade, with all the havoc and devastation to an iconic species that brings.’

In the Badger Trust’s opinion, the Defra statement that ‘ one wants to be culling badgers forever' is misleading, as it now seems that is exactly what the Government wants to do. The Godfray Review** urged that the focus should be on cattle and non-lethal measures for badgers, but the Government response has been not only to continue to cull badgers, but to increase the breadth and depth of the killing. Once again the beleaguered badger continues to pay the ultimate price.

The charity remains steadfast in its mission to protect badgers, campaigning against mass killing of the animals as a flawed response to the serious problems of bovine TB in cattle. And it will continue to challenge a Government that seems willing to risk devastating an entire species through an inability to change tack.

Read the 6 January 2021 letter from Defra

DEFRA letter to Badger Trust 06 Jan 2021
Download • 114KB

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