Badger Trust outraged as new licences mean 2021 badger cull will be largest yet

Updated: Feb 3

Badger cull set to surpass 200,000 badgers killed as 2021 licences allow for 75,930 badgers to be shot as cull areas expand

Badger Trust today expressed outrage that the largest number of badgers ever to be culled could be killed under 2021 licences. The latest release of badger cull licences, as they predicted, marks an increase in the kill rate and an expansion of the cull area in England, with a maximum kill quota stated as 75,930 across both the supplementary and intensive licences issued for 2021. Seven new intensive licences have been announced, with three of those solely concentrating on new counties to the cull map – Hampshire, Berkshire and Worcestershire.

The Government confirmed its latest road map for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), a cattle disease, in May 2021. This was spun as ‘ending cull licences in 2022’, and interpreted by many as a policy change and the cull coming to an end. However, Badger Trust challenged that this was nothing of the sort and that licences issued in 2022 allowed culling to continue to 2025, predicting that the kill rate was still on the increase and that new areas would be added. The publication of seven new licences by Natural England, the government agency responsible for licensing cull operations, in addition to those already in play, has confirmed this horrific reality.

Adam Laidlaw, Executive Director of Badger Trust, said:

“Today Natural England has unleashed fresh horrors on badgers with the publication of seven more badger cull licences. Licences to kill badgers now cover almost 25% of England’s entire land area. The death toll under all active 2021 licences could hit over 75,000 badgers.
That would push us well beyond 200,000 badgers killed since the cull started in 2013, swiftly heading towards half of the estimated population of 485,000. This Government sanctioned senseless slaughter of badgers has to end.”

He continued: “As we predicted at the time of the Government’s policy announcement, what we see here is increased killing, over an expanded area, and we’re speeding towards at least another 140,000 badgers still to be lost to a failed policy to control bTB in cattle. Badgers are not the problem."

"Bovine TB is a respiratory cattle disease, with the majority of transmission caused by cattle-to-cattle transmission. Further killing of badgers – a protected wildlife species – will have no effect on the battle to contain this disease, or help the farmers affected.”

Under the cull licences badgers will either be cage trapped and then shot, or ‘controlled shooting’ will be allowed on free running badgers. Since the cull started in 2013, the numbers of badgers