Wildlife charity highlights shock and disgust at badger cull being extended into Notts ‘by the back door’

A month on from the announcement that parts of Leicestershire were to be included in the cull for the first time, the Trust has been able to confirm that badgers it has vaccinated are highly likely to be killed.

Last month, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust outlined its horror at the prospect that up to 70,000 badgers will be killed this autumn as a result of the Government’s decision to expand the contentious badger cull into a number of areas for the first time. Today the Trust has spoken of its frustration at the lack of transparency surrounding the cull and its shock and dismay at finding out that parts of Nottinghamshire are included in a licence announced as Area 48 – Leicestershire.  

A month on from the announcement that parts of Leicestershire were to be included in the cull for the first time, the Trust has been able to confirm that badgers it has vaccinated are highly likely to be killed as a result - and the charity has also learned that culling will also take place in Nottinghamshire, despite the county being omitted from the public announcements.

The cull expansion came just 6 months after the Government made a commitment to move away from lethal controls and to support the expansion of badger vaccinations, which the Trust has been delivering on the Notts/Leicestershire border for the past four years with DEFRA funding.

Speaking on behalf of Nottinghamshire Wildlife, Trust Janice Bradley, who has led its badger vaccination programme for the last four years said:

News that 35% of the badger population were to be shot and that land adjacent to our vaccination area could be affected without proper consultation was bad enough; but confirmation that badgers we have vaccinated are almost certain to be killed and the disclosure that areas of Nottinghamshire have been included under the ‘Leicestershire’ licence have been difficult to take.
Janice Bradley, Head of Nature Recovery (North)
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Leicestershire was included as one of 6 new government licence areas where culling has never previously taken place. This was despite vociferous objections from local Wildlife Trusts and concerns being raised by thousands of constituents with their MPs. The charity’s efforts to find out the extent of the cull were hindered by a lack of access to information and the fact that full details of areas the new licences would cover were not immediately released – illustrating the lack of transparency that has been evident through the process. In fact, the Government will still not provide the Wildlife Trust with maps of the cull areas.

The Wildlife Trusts oppose badger culling and believe the science used to justify the killing of thousands of badgers every year in the UK is flawed. bTB has a terrible impact on the livelihoods of livestock farmers, with which Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust wholly sympathises, but evidence shows that bTB is primarily a cattle problem, not a wildlife one. The main route of bTB transmission in cattle is between cattle. This autumn’s cull brings the overall total of badgers shot since culling began in 2013 to over 170,000 badger deaths. This is approximately 35% of the UK badger population. The cull began in 2013 and is expected to continue for a further four years.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust spent months calling for the details of a local cull licence application and evidence supporting any expansion of the cull to be made public. Questions about the evidence base were also raised in the House of Commons on the Trust’s behalf.

Despite being part funded by DEFRA as a partner delivering the Government’s agreed bovine tuberculosis (bTB) strategy, we have had to fight to be heard at every turn. We have yet to be provided with any epidemiological evidence of bTB in badgers to justify the expansion of the cull into our vaccination area and we now sadly have to come to terms with the reality that badgers we have vaccinated to help reduce the spread of bTB will now be trapped and shot. The evidence that is available from tests of road kill badgers is that bTB is vanishingly rare in badgers in our vaccination area, and the Government’s own data shows that there have been no bTB outbreaks in cattle herds in our Nottinghamshire vaccination area for the last 3 years.

The lack of transparency throughout this process has been frustrating, and the government U-turn on its commitment to move away from culling was staggering. However, to find out that parts of Nottinghamshire have been included in the cull without full disclosure is truly shocking.
Janice Bradley, Head of Nature Recovery (North)
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust believes that the public deserve be given access to full information about decisions on this emotive and complex issue and have access to the evidence on which they are being made. The Trust also feels strongly that killing vaccinated badgers represents a clear waste of tax payers’ money at a time when public resources are under more pressure than ever before – not to mention the thousands of hours of dedicated volunteer time invested in the vaccination programme.