Trust condemns decision to extend badger cull into Staffordshire

Thursday 13th September 2018

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.