Government U-turn on badger cull extremely devastating say Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust say it is “devastating” that less than five months after the Government announced it would phase out intensive badger culling, it appears to have made a U-turn on the decision with eleven new areas in England now authorised for culling to go ahead.

The Trust understands this represents the Government’s largest ever seasonal cull of badgers, which will lead to tens of thousands of healthy animals being killed.

“This is a devastating decision, particularly as the Government stated in March that it would take precisely the opposite approach in favour of vaccination” said Liz Ballard, Chief Executive of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

“The Government’s own 2018 independent review of its bovine TB strategy was extremely critical of their focus on managing badgers, when most transmission of the disease occurs from cattle to cattle. The review also clearly advised much greater improvement is needed with regard to vaccination and more robust biosecurity measures on farms.”

The Wildlife Trusts believe that the culling of badgers makes no meaningful contribution to the management of bovine TB and may even be counterproductive, which appears to be being borne out by the national statistics.

According to a House of Commons Briefing Paper on Bovine TB, 26,594 infected cows were prematurely slaughtered in England during 2013, when badger culling first began in the South West. In 2018, 32,925 cows were slaughtered because of the disease, an increase of 6,331, with the South West still seeing the greatest number of animals slaughtered because of TB.

“We believe much more needs to be done to prevent transmission within cattle herds to tackle the terrible hardship that bovine TB causes the farming community, as well as a more reliable cattle TB testing system” Liz Ballard said.

The Trust are also alarmed by the news that licenses for badger culling has been approved in the nearby county of Lincolnshire, which is a Low Risk TB Area, the same as Sheffield & Rotherham, as well as Derbyshire, despite a badger vaccination programme having been run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for the past six years, supported by the Government.

Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust are also appealing for funds to help stop the cull coming to our area through better engagement with local farmers and if appropriate rolling out a badger vaccination programme. For more details, visit wildsheffield.com/badgers


(c) Jon Hawkins – Surrey Hills Photography