Up to 75,000 badgers could be killed across England this year – taking the total to around 200,000 shot badgers since the cull began. The new licenses allow badgers to be shot and killed over the next four years in an attempt to control bTb in cattle.
There is still a lack of evidence that killing badgers reduces the spread of bovine TB in cattle and a report by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust last year suggested the evidence used is flawed and inaccurate.
Pete Burgess, Director of Nature Recovery of Devon Wildlife Trust says:
"Devon Wildlife Trust urges the government to stop issuing badger culling licences. We all agree that bovine TB is a terrible disease which needs to be controlled. But continuing killing badgers is not the solution.
A combination of vaccination of cattle and badgers, alongside diligent biosecurity measures, represents the sustainable and scientifically valid solution."
Jo Smith, chief executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, says:
“The main cause of bovine TB is from cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are not the main culprit yet thousands are killed every year. For years, The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of vaccinating badgers. It is now time for Government to step up its commitment and implement a badger vaccination strategy alongside the deployment of a vaccination for cattle against the disease."
Earlier this year, the Government committed to issuing no new intensive badger cull licences after 2022 and thousands of people have shared their concerns and called for a more immediate end to the cull. The Wildlife Trusts are also concerned that the cull in England has inspired plans for a potential badger cull in Northern Ireland for the first time – a huge step backwards in the fight against this devastating cattle disease.
Jo Smith continues:
“We continue to call on the Government to end the killing of badgers to fight bovine TB in cattle and ask for robust measures that will see better cattle testing, roll out of a cattle vaccine and stricter movement control of cattle. Our protected wildlife, our farmers and the dairy industry deserve much better."