Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Bovine TB and badger culling in Britain

Posted: 20 June 2013. Updated: 21 December 2018


Besides cattle, bovine TB can affect a range of species including badgers, and the disease can be transmitted between the two species. The Government says that it is carrying out the cull as “part of a science-led and carefully managed policy of badger control”. However, this ignores the last major, 9 year long, scientific study into the culling of badgers as a means of controlling TB in cattle, which concluded “that badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain”. They also stated that “We further conclude from the scientific evidence available, that the rigorous application of heightened control measures directly targeting cattle will reverse the year on-year increase in the incidence of cattle TB and halt the geographical spread of the disease.”, yet despite this compelling evidence and extremely strong opinions among the public, MPs and animal protection groups, the Coalition Government still pressed ahead with the pilot badger cull in England, which fell short of its target.

Please join ADI and our Team Badger colleagues in opposing any further needless slaughter of our native wildlife.

Take action!

{h2}Record number of badgers killed{/h2) Over 21 December 2018: 32,000 badgers were shot during this year’s cull. A huge expansion compared with previous years, the killing was approved by environment secretary Michael Gove in September.

Report on bovine TB strategy criticised

13th November 2018: Conclusions of an independently commissioned report on the UK Government’s strategy for eradicating TB in cattle suggests the badger cull should continue, despite an indication a lack of disease control measures on farms is a large part of the problem. Despite evidence that the badger cull is ineffective in preventing the spread of bovine TB, the government specifically stated when commissioning the review that it was not to review the cull. A number of vets have written an open letter asking Defra Minister George Eustice to retract his statement that the current strategy, including the cull, is “delivering results”. Former head of Defra’s wildlife epidemiology unit, who advised on its TB strategy for more than 40 years, has also criticised the government stating it has been cherry picking data on the cull since it began.

MPs debate the badger cull

7th November 2018: A parliamentary debate on how the badger cull “should no longer be a subject for consideration due to the scientific evidence that showed that it did not work as a method of controlling TB” was brought by Labour MP Chris Williamson. During the debate, evidence that vaccination is a more viable and cost-effective solution was cited, with the price to vaccinate a badger being £200 compared with £1,000 to shoot a badger. The suffering of the badgers was also emphasised, Mr Williamson noting recent footage in which a caged badger took almost a minute to die after being shot. The badger population already heavily impacted by traffic and building development, each responsible for the deaths of 50,000 badgers each year, the cull is further contributing to its decline. There is however no indication of the slaughter coming to an end, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, George Eustice said, defending the ongoing cull during the debate.

Badger culling area to expand by 70%.

13 September 2018: Up to 42,000 badgers will be shot in the next round of culls in an attempt to curb bovine Tb, even though the effectiveness of this method is highly disputed. There is still no concrete scientific evidence that the inhumane culling works to reduce Tb in dairy and beef cattle which will now expand into 10 new areas of the UK, including Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and even Cumbria, where risk of the disease is low. The cost to the taxpayer is £1,000 per badger and to date, badger culling is thought to have cost the Government £40 million.

New cull zones proposed.

9th March 2018: Earlier this week, Natural England, who are responsible for issuing licences for badger culls in England, announced a consultation on applications or “expressions of interest” to carry out new culls in the following regions: Avon, Berkshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire & Warwickshire. Last year 19,274 badgers were culled across eight counties. How many lives might be lost if the areas are doubled? Please oppose this before the 19 March deadline.

HUGE increase in number of badgers to be killed in England.

11th September 2017: Following the extension of the 4-year badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, new licences have now been announced for Cheshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire and Wiltshire. The number of cull zones has DOUBLED from 10 to 21, covering nearly 3,500 square miles and leading to a huge increase in the numbers of animals to be targeted. A minimum of 21,982 badgers are to be killed with the maximum set at 33,841 - at least double the number last year.

Badger cull imminent.

30th August 2017: The fatally flawed badger cull in England will soon be underway once again. The first licences announced by Natural England are for Somerset and Gloucestershire where, following 4 years of killing, the slaughter will continue with further “supplementary culling” over the next 5 years. Licences for other areas are expected to be announced over the coming days and to include new regions, including Cheshire and Wiltshire.

The badgers need you!

March 2017: Please urge your MP to attend a parliamentary debate on the badger cull on Monday 27th March. Click here to get contact details. You can also join the protest on the day, which will take place at House of Commons Old Palace Yard, 2pm-6.30pm.

Stop the Cull - London March & Vigil.

January 2017: On January 26th, a march and candlelit vigil took place outside Defra, in remembrance of the 10,000+ badgers killed in England’s latest cull.

More than 10,000 lives lost.

December 2016: The terrible toll of this year’s badger cull in England: 10,886 lives lost in Cornwall, Herefordshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, and Dorset. More than 5,000 badgers killed via controlled shooting (rather than cage trapping), a method not supported by the British Veterinary Association. Ignoring the science and the suffering, the slaughter is set to continue.

UK Government set the extend badger cull.

August 2016: Despite amassing evidence of how ineffective the badger cull is in preventing the spread of bovine TB, not to mention a huge waste of taxpayers’ money, five new areas in England look set to be granted licences to kill. In addition to the current culls in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset, hundreds more badgers could also be killed in Cornwall, Devon and Herefordshire when the shooting begins next month.

Badgers not to blame for bovine TB.

August 2016: A new study funded by Defra indicates that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is principally passed among cattle through contaminated pasture and dung - and NOT from direct contact with badgers. With the bacteria able to survive on grazing grounds for months, the implications of farming practices such as slurry spreading are being questioned, with researchers now sampling the fields to see where bacteria is harboured. As the scientific evidence time and again shows, killing badgers will not halt bTB.

Cull figures released

December 2015: The government publishes figures of the number of badgers killed in each of the three cull zones:
West Somerset 279 (controlled shooting 148 / cage trapping 131)
West Gloucestershire 432 (controlled shooting 279 / cage trapping 153)
Dorset 756 (controlled shooting 316 / cage trapping 440)

Team Badger protest!

08.09.15: Team Badger march on parliament to protest against the failing badger cull. Eminent experts in the field, including Professor Lord Krebs and Professors John Bourne and Ranald Munro have called for the cull to end highlighting “the central importance of cattle to cattle transmission, both within and between herds, in maintaining and disseminating the disease”.

Badger cull licences granted by Natural England

28.08.15 Natural England has confirmed that the badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset will continue into a third year, with a new 4-year licence to kill issued for Dorset. The permits allow badgers to be killed over a 6-week period between 1 June and 31 January.

Chief Vet admits badger cull may fail

A senior Government official admits that badger cull may not reduce prevalence of TB and statistics on the latest round of culls, which once again failed to meet their minimum targets, are published by the Government. Read more...

Natural England give next round of badger culls the go-ahead

27.08.14 Natural England gives the go-ahead for a second round of badger culls, despite last year’s trial culls being branded an ‘epic failure’ by the chairman of its scientific advisory board. Read more...

The beginning of the end for the badger cull?

27.06.14: There have been big developments for badgers this week, the biggest of which is the news that badger vaccination programmes backed by the Government are to be rolled out. This good news has been touted as the “beginning of the end” for the culls and follows just days after an internationally respected zoologist and top government adviser accused ministers of ‘wilfully’ ignoring the advice of its own scientists. Find out more...

Badger cull in breach of Bern Convention?

June 2014: The Badger Trust, Humane Society International UK and Care for the Wild International have made a formal complaint to the Secretariat of the Bern Convention to challenge the cull on the basis that it is likely to have a negative effect on other wildlife, and asserting that sufficient risk assessments were not conducted. Research over many years has apparently shown that removal of the badger impacts on the wider ecosystem.

Badger slaughter to continue

A sad day for wildlife on 3rd April 2014 as the government announces its strategy going forward to deal with bovine TB. The pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset will continue for a further 3 years and although there are no plans to roll out the culls to other regions, this has not been ruled out.

Badgers should not be made scapegoat for cat TB cases

March 2014: Badgers have been touted as the possible culprit of a rare cluster of M. bovis cases – the bacterium that causes TB – reported in domestic cats in the UK. A couple of people have subsequently become infected in the first cat-to-human transmission of the disease. Many wildlife species are TB carriers and it is likely that the disease was spread through rodents. We hope that this incident will be dealt sensibly and scientifically – badgers should not be made the scapegoat in order to push through further culls.

Landslide vote in Parliament but will the Government listen?

A backbench debate on Thursday 13 March 2014 saw a landslide vote against the cull - 219 MPs vote against, with just one in favour. Thank you to everyone who asked their MP them to attend this important debate.

Post mortems shows badgers died in pain

March 2014: The results from two post mortems on badgers killed during the pilot culls – found by campaigners patrolling the cull zone – revealed that the animals did not test positive for TB and one had been shot in the spine, causing a long and painful death.

Expert panel rules badger cull ineffective

28.02.14 An independent expert panel commissioned by the government to evaluate the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset has concluded that the culls were ineffective. Although the panel held back from stating it was inhumane, it was found that up to 18% of badgers killed took longer than 5 minutes to die, over THREE TIMES the 5% standard set by the government.

Reduction in bovine TB incidents in Wales

20.02.14 The Welsh government – where a vaccination programme is in place – has announced that there has been a 23% reduction in incidents of bovine TB in cattle, stating that strict biosecurity practices and movement controls had helped prevent transmission.

Figures used to make case for badger cull wrong

Blaming an ‘IT glitch’ the UK government has admitted that the figures it used to make its case for pressing ahead with the badger cull were wrong. Read more...

Parliamentary debate on the future of the badger cull

Secured by Labour MP Chris Williamson, a parliamentary debate was held on 11 December 2013 to discuss ‘The Future of the Badger Cull’. Read a summary of the sometimes passionate and heated exchange here

Badger cull debate

A debate on the ‘Future of the Badger Cull in England’ will be held on Wednesday, 11th December at 2.30pm. Please urge your MP to attend – contact them here.

Failing badger cull pulled

The badger cull in Gloucestershire is to end on 30 November 2013, three weeks early, after attempts to meet its revised target spectacularly failed. The cull had been extended by eight weeks by Natural England, against the advice of its lead scientist, after it was found that just 30% of badgers in the cull zone had been killed, compared to the 70% target, which was later revised to 58% but which still could not be met. In total 931 badgers were killed, 40% of the target figure - 213 individuals in the final five weeks. Despite, it was hailed as a success by Defra.

Somerset badger cull falls short despite extension

Although the pilot badger cull in Somerset was extended in order to reach the government target to kill at least 70% of the local population, Defra has announced this week that it has still fallen short, with 65% of the population culled. Sadly, a further 90 badgers lost their lives – well below the minimum target of 165 set by the government. Despite this poor performance, Defra has stated that the cull would “deliver clear disease benefits”.

National Trust vote against motion not to cull

At its AGM on Saturday, 26 October 2013, members of the National Trust voted against a motion to stop badgers from being culled on its land (8,694 votes versus 7,808 for the motion). Despite the disappointing vote, the charity has stated that “Vaccination is our long-term preference, both for badgers and cattle”, however that “It may prove costly and hard to administer in practice.”

Badger cull extended despite failings

On 23 October 2013, Natural England extended the badger cull in Gloucestershire by a further 8 weeks, during which a minimum number of 540 and a maximum of 940 badgers can be killed. The voice of opposition to this needless slaughter is growing and becoming louder by the day but still the government presses on. In addition to the official killing, there have also been reports of illegal shooting, poisoning and gassing of badgers in the counties where the culls are taking place.

Badger cull extended in Somerset

Following the news that the target number of badgers to be killed in the West Somerset cull zone had not been met, on 11 October 2013, Natural England granted a 3-week extension to the trial, during which it is proposed that between 165 and 282 badgers are killed. An application to extend the cull in west Gloucestershire has also been received, a decision on which is yet to be made.

Cull numbers revised as “badgers moved the goalposts”

The first of the two pilot badger culls, in West Somerset, has just concluded and it has been reported that 850 badgers have been shot during the course of the six-week trial, representing little more than 40 percent of the government’s target of 2,081. Read more...

Petition closes with 303,775 signatures

On 7 September 2013, the petition opposing the badger cull, instigated by Dr Brian May, closed with a record-breaking 303,775 signatures. Thank you everyone who signed.

Cull underway in second pilot zone

On 4 September 2013 the news came that the second of the two pilot badger culls in England was under way in west Gloucestershire, a week after the first cull began in Somerset.

Badger cull begins

On 27 August 2013, Britain woke up to the news that the badger cull had sadly begun. A dark day for our wildlife, as well as democracy as government actions fly in the face of both the science and public opinion.

On the same day, the House of Commons Library released a statement on badger culling which can be viewed here.

Motion to halt the cull voted against

An opposition debate was held on 5th June 2013 to discuss the badger cull. Sadly, the House of Commons voted against the motion ‘This House believes the badger cull should not go ahead’ by a majority of 49 votes. Watch the debate in parliament or read the Hansard report.

March against the badger cull

ADI marched against the badger cull on Saturday, June 1st 2013, with campaigners from across the UK. Thousands of protesters dressed as badgers and were led to parliament square by Queen guitarist Brian May.

ADI become part of Team Badger!

ADI joined “Team Badger”, a powerful coalition of the largest animal and wildlife welfare groups in the world, united to stop the badger cull. Find out the top ten myths about the badger cull and how these are refuted.

Pilot areas given go ahead for cull

On 27th February 2013, Natural England issued authorisation letters to the two pilot areas confirming the conditions have been met for culling to go ahead later in the year. An area in Dorset is also to be prepared as a contingency.

Badger cull temporarily postponed

Badgers were given a brief reprieve when it was announced on 23rd October 2012 that the scheduled badger cull would be postponed. ADI hoped the Government would see sense and halt it completely, but it was not to be.

Licences to cull issued

Natural England issues the first culling licence on 17th September 2012 for West Gloucestershire and the second on 4th October 2012 for West Somerset.

Natural England invite comments from residents and businesses on cull

In January 2012, Natural England conducted a survey concerning the impact the cull could have on residents and businesses in the two designated cull areas. ADI invited local supporters to participate to ensure their voices were heard.

Badger cull announced by government

On 14th December 2011, the government announced the cull, and that a pilot would be carried out in two regions.

ADI join coalition against the cull

ADI join coalition of animal organisations against the cull, spearheaded by the League Against Cruel Sports and RSPCA.

Badger cull consultation

ADI contributed to the consultation on the badger control policy and bovine TB in December 2010, in which we argued the scientific and cost reasons for pushing vaccination rather than culling.

  • Read about badger baiting and other bloodsports here

ADI has previously funded the Hydestile Wildlife Hospital to aid the recovery of injured badgers and their return to the wild.

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