Badger Trust outraged as latest cull figures reveal record proportion killed by inhumane shooting

Catastrophic scale of the attack on one of Britain’s best-loved native animals could see local extinction in some English counties.

Badger Trust expressed outrage as the Government revealed at least 33,687 badgers were slaughtered in 2021 as part of its ongoing and intensifying badger cull campaign. This figure brings the total to over 175,000 since 2013, representing over a third of the entire UK badger population.

The proportion shot while free running rather than the more humane caged and trapped hit a record of nearly 9 out of 10, despite calls to stop this inhumane method that can leave injured badgers to die slow deaths.

The charity reveals that the scale of the attack on one of Britain’s best-loved animals could lead to badgers disappearing from areas across the country and populations becoming unviable in others.

At the same time, support for this controversial measure stands at only 15% in England[1], the only UK nation where the cull is ongoing.

Defra has announced that they killed at least 33,687 badgers in 2021 as part of its failed attempt to tackle bovine TB (bTB) in England. Adding this to the number of badgers killed in the past eight years brings the total number of badgers unnecessarily killed to over 176,000, representing over a third of the badger population in England and Wales.

Peter Hambly, Executive Director at Badger Trust, commented:

“The figures are appalling.

The attack on badgers intensifies.

With scant evidence that badgers spread bTB to cattle, this assault on a much loved wild animal is reaching catastrophic proportions and needs to stop now.

The number of badgers killed is nauseating. 33,687 badgers were killed in 2021, with it appears none being tested to see if they even had bTB. At the same time the amount of badgers free shot, i.e. when the badgers are free running, rather than the more humane caged and trapped, reached a record 87.7% - nearly 9 out of 10. These badgers have an increased risk of dying slowly and in great pain. Over 100,000 signed a petition to stop free shooting and that led to it being the subject of a Parliamentary debate just a week ago.

Most people oppose the cull, yet they don’t realise the cull is intensifying and getting worse in its nature, threatening one of the greatest mammals this country has. We should be protecting badgers, not attacking this protected native species.”

Details of badger cull figures 2013 to 2021

Hambly continued: “And the sickening total will continue to rise. We estimate the number of badgers killed will exceed 230,000 by the end of 2023, with further years of culling already locked into current expansion plans and four-year licences still to run. The government’s culling policy is inhumane and unnecessary at best – at worst, it’s a smokescreen and ineffective strategy to appease farmers, while continuing to fail them.”