Badgers and bovine TB - our view

Badgers - c Elliott NeepBadgers - c Elliott Neep

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is very conscious of the hardship that Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer.

November 2018 update

Whilst welcoming the review's recommendations for a changed emphasis in the government’s strategy for eradicating bovine tuberculosis (bTB), The Wildlife Trusts are extremely concerned that it also recommends that badger culling should continue. This flies in the face of robust scientific evidence and we urge the government to halt their flawed policy which leads to tens of thousands of badgers being killed every year.

Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager of The Wildlife Trusts says:

“The Wildlife Trusts believe that cattle and not badgers should be the focus of efforts to eradicate bTB. We support the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of bTB between cattle. This is the main route of infection. Only 1 in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers [1], so culling badgers is not the answer. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of bTB in the badger population [2,3], and results in it spreading to other areas [4,5,6]. We believe that more must be done by both the government and farmers to improve farm biosecurity and cattle movement controls.”

Read more here 

Tackling the bovine TB problem

Scientific research funded by the Government has shown conclusively that badger culling, unless carried out in line with strict criteria including the requirement to be across very large areas, could be counterproductive.

Large-scale badger culling trials show an initial worsening of the disease due to territorial boundaries being disturbed leading to increased movement of badgers. Over the longer term, there may be a positive impact of a 12 - 16 per cent reduction of bTB in cattle, but this still leaves at least 84 per cent of the problem. 

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust believes therefore that the disease should be tackled by the following measures:

  • Cattle vaccination: The development and deployment of a cattle vaccine is the long-term solution to bTB.
  • Badger vaccination: Until cattle vaccination is available, the use of an injectable BadgerBCG vaccine is curently the most effective way of tackling badger to cattle transmission of the disease. 
  • Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm.

What Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is doing

Badger vaccination: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is working on a five-year badger vaccination programme on two of its nature reserves.

Lobbying the Government and MPs: The Wildlife Trusts have been campaigning both nationally and at a local level, and lobbying the European Commission to change regulation relating to cattle vaccination.

Encouraging our members to take action: We have been encouraging members to wirte to their MPs and MEPs.

What you can do

Our badger vaccination programme

The Trust is working on a five-year badger vaccination programme on two nature reserves.

Find out more about how we vaccinate the badgers from an article in Staffordshire Wildlife members' magazine.

It will cost £25,000 to run the vaccination programme for the next five years. We need your help to fund this important work - to pay for essential veterinary supplies, equipment and staff training.

Make a donation today.

Summer 2018 magazine update

The Trust is dismayed by proposals to extend badger culling to Staffordshire, and earlier this
year resumed its badger vaccination programme. Head of Conservation Delivery Helen Dale shares the Trust’s views on the issue and answers some commonly asked questions for our summer 2018 magazine. Click here to read the page one of the article and here for page two.

To keep updated on national news, click here.

June 2018 update


Staffordshire Wildlife Trust was dismayed to hear about the proposals to extend licensed badger culling in our county.

In addition to these proposals, the government has announced it will allow badger culling to take place in low-risk areas of England.

We remain very conscious of the hardship that Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) causes in the farming community and fully support the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we do not believe that a badger cull is the answer. Scientific research funded by the Government has shown that badger culling, unless carried out in line with strict criteria including the requirement to be across very large areas, could be counterproductive.

We have strongly put our case forward during the consultation process on why we feel a badger cull is not the answer and are maintaining a very close eye on the outcomes.

We will not give permission for a cull to take place on our nature reserves and are currently undertaking a badger vaccination programme on a number of locations across the county.  

September 2018 update

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust has expressed extreme dismay after receiving confirmation that proposals to extend licensed badger culling in our county were approved by Natural England.

The Trust believes culling badgers is not the answer and are passionate in our campaign to oppose the cull. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is very conscious of the hardship that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer.

This year, badgers are now at risk in Staffordshire and Cumbria, in addition to the existing areas of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset,Cornwall, Devon, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Wiltshire.

As a result of this major expansion of badger cull, 40,892 badgers could be killed by the end of 2018, more than during the last 5 years of the badger cull combined.

The county’s largest nature conservation charity, who were one of the first Trusts to adopt a programme of badger vaccination, will not give permission for a cull to take place on its nature reserves and are currently undertaking a badger vaccination programme on a number of locations across the county.

The organisation believe that the government’s strategy is flawed because bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is primarily a cattle problem, not a wildlife one, and makes no sense at a time when a review of the government strategy which drives the culls – the bovine TB eradication strategy – is still underway.

Scientific research has shown that badger culling could be counterproductive.

Julian Woolford, Chief Executive, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It is unacceptable that the government has not waited for the results of their own review – which we understand is to be published imminently – before forging ahead with another year of ineffective and expensive badger culling. The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bTB transmission in cattle which is between cattle.”

Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager, The Wildlife Trusts said:

“The Wildlife Trusts have been involved in this debate for over ten years. In 2008 we successfully persuaded the Labour Government not to go ahead with a badger cull. In 2012 we helped stop the initial badger cull pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Simultaneously, we have led the way in demonstrating that badger vaccination would be a far more effective route, accompanied with strict biosecurity controls, movement controls and robust cattle testing regimes.

“We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen. The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them – it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger.”

The Wildlife Trust movement has opposed badger culling for well over a decade and most recently have written to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to highlight the flaws of the badger cull and request that the cull be ended in favour of strategic and widespread badger vaccination schemes, and to invest in developing a cattle vaccine. Yet again, this has not happened.