Badger Trust urges the government to stop the cull and focus on effective cattle measures to control bovine TB as new cull season starts.
In the coming week, as much of the British public prepare for the Jubilee holiday, badger groups across the South West, Cheshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire prepare for the horrors of badger culling season, which begins on 1 June in supplementary cull zones. Despite the government's claims that badger culling will be phased out, a further ten locations (the maximum allowed) have been designated as ‘supplementary cull zones’. Licences with target kill rates of up to 2,492 badgers per zone have been released by Natural England this week. Each of these ‘supplementary’ zones has already been intensively culled. The future of the badger is now seriously under threat, especially in areas of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.
A badger cull in June is ethically unjustifiable and an animal welfare tragedy
The continuation of badger culling as a central part of Defra’s programme as an effective bTB reduction strategy is scientifically unjustified. The latest evidence, produced by Defra itself, failed to prove badger culling reduced bTB in cattle. In addition, the implementation of a badger cull in June is ethically unjustifiable and an animal welfare tragedy. At only four months old, this year's badger cubs are now beginning to explore away from the relative safety of the sett, and increased rates of nightly foraging could lead them directly into the cull gunmen’s sights.
It's not 'easy' to vaccinate badgers if there are none left
The Government claims it is making a genuine move towards badger vaccination, but this is in tandem with culling. Whilst it is easier to get a vaccination licence now, the emphasis is on volunteer-led groups, not cull organisations, and it remains entirely voluntary. Allowing vaccination where culling has already taken place in a sea of cull zones is not 'moving to vaccination'. It's not 'easy' to vaccinate badgers if there are none left.
Badger Trust has written to Lord Goldsmith, the Minister of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the ending of the supplementary culls. Central to the request is Defra’s failure to provide evidence for attributing badgers the significant role in bTB transmission, the ineffectiveness of culling as the lead method in a bTB disease prevention strategy, the continuing high costs of the bTB operation, and the cruelty of culling cubs at this time of year.