Cost of the badger cull

Badger vaccination (c) Tom Marshall

Between 2012 and 2014, the tax payer spent £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers.

Cost of culling

More than £4.9 million was spent on policing costs - equivalent to the annual salary costs of more than 120 police officers over a two-year period.


Badgers are nocturnal and forage alone. Killing large numbers of them therefore requires considerable effort and cost. The Government's badger control policy is based on a cost-sharing approach with the farming industry. The industry is responsible for the operational costs of delivering culling and Defra bears the costs of licensing, monitoring and policing the policy.

Between 2012 and 2014, the tax payer spent £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers. This is nearly four times more expensive than Defra anticipated and is a cost per dead badger of £6,800. Of this figure, more than £4.9 million was spent on policing costs - equivalent to the annual salary costs of more than 120 police officers over a two-year period.

The table below shows Defra figures for the costs of culling in Year 1 (2013) and Year 2 (2014). The decrease in total cost between Year 1 and Year 2 is due mainly to slashed spend on humaneness monitoring (reduction of £1,113,000) and efficacy monitoring (reduction of £2,294,000).

Costs to Defra 2013 2014
Licensing and compliance monitoring £859,000 £1,036,000
Humaneness monitoring, including post-mortems £2,628,000 £1,515,000
Efficacy monitoring £2,311,000 £17,000
Advice and assessments £389,000 £294,000
Other costs, including equipment £107,000 £205,000
Policing £3,524,000 £1,392,000
Total cost £9,818,000 £4,459,000


These figures were provided in response to a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, which is available in full on the Gov.uk website.

 

Cost of vaccination

5,000 badgers have been vaccinated in Wales in four years - and all for the price of two weeks of badger culling in England. It cost £82 per badger vaccinated in the Wildlife Trusts’ vaccination programmes (based on an analysis of costs of 12 Wildlife Trust badger vacination programmes in 2015 which vaccinated 949 badgers). 

Financial efficiency is not the only benefit of vaccinating badgers over culling them. There is evidence to suggest that vaccination of adult badgers reduces the likelihood of infection in cubs. Also, unlike the disruption of culling and its associated increased risk of TB infection of cattle, there is no significant perturbation following badger vaccination programmes.

Find out more about vaccinating badgers.