Saddened and disappointed but not defeated as Government issues new licences to cull badgers

Saddened and disappointed but not defeated as Government issues new licences to cull badgers

The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, after this year's season of badger vaccinations, is saddened as the Government continues to grant badger culling licenses

As the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust team responsible for delivering our badger vaccination programme in the Vale of Belvoir comes to the end of this year’s vaccination season it is frustrating and upsetting to reflect on the fact that the Government has issued yet more licences for badger culling – including for areas where these fascinating and sociable native mammals have been vaccinated with public money and charitable donations.

The latest round of licences covers 33 existing and seven new areas in England for 2021. To take one example, badger culling across the border in Derbyshire, where our sister Wildlife Trust has blazed a trail with successful vaccinations, continues and enters its second year. Up to 3218 badgers could die in Derbyshire this autumn.

Badger in Notts

Photo © Kevin Gray

Up to 75,000 badgers could be killed across England this year – taking the total to around 200,000 shot badgers since culling began. These new licenses will allow badgers to be shot and killed over a period of four years in an attempt to control bTb in cattle.This increase in culling is despite a continued lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle. A report by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust last year suggested that the evidence used to support the cull licences is both flawed and inaccurate. We know that the main cause of the spread of bovine TB is cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are clearly not the main culprit; but we face a situation where thousands are being killed each year.

Badger vaccination volunteers

Badger vaccination volunteers - Photo © Notts WT

For years, The Wildlife Trusts, including Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, supported by our members and generous donors, have been at the forefront of vaccinating badgers. We believe that it is now time for the Government to step up its commitment and implement a comprehensive badger vaccination strategy alongside the deployment of a vaccination programme for cattle to tackle the disease.

Earlier this year, the Government committed to not issuing any new intensive badger cull licences after 2022, but thousands of people have shared their outrage and concern – calling for a more immediate end to killing. The Wildlife Trusts remain concerned that the cull in England has triggered plans for a possible badger cull in Northern Ireland for the first time. This would be a huge step backwards in the fight against this devastating cattle disease.

Badger vaccination in progress

Badger vaccination in progress - Photo © Tom Marshall

Here in Nottinghamshire we remain committed to being part of the solution to this issue and our stalwart volunteers have helped the team vaccinate a further 21 badgers this season, a great effort given the impact that the cull has caused – both in terms of farmers withdrawing their landholdings and financial support from our programme and the fact that remaining badgers seems more skittish and cautious - making it harder to capture them ahead of vaccination.

We remain hopeful that we can continue badger vaccination in future years, having so far vaccinated 275 animals in the project area since 2015.

We will continue to call on the Government to end the killing of badgers as a means of fighting bovine TB in cattle. We will go on asking for more robust and scientifically sound measures that will deliver improved cattle testing, the roll out of a vaccine for cattle and a tightening of controls on the movement of cattle. We believe that our protected wildlife, the dairy industry and its farmers deserve better.

Get involved

Our campaign page has a full update of the story so far with our Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme (BEVS), including how you can help by donating and providing answers to many of the questions we have been asked in the FAQ section.

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Badger tracks

Photo © Philip Precey