Proposed badger cull
On 27 February 2013 the Government announced that two pilot culls of badgers, originally due to start on 2012, would go ahead in the summer of 2013. It has since been confirmed that these could take place from 1 June onwards. The culls are designed to test the 'controlled shooting' method of culling badgers and will not measure the impact on bovine TB. The pilot culls are due to take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset and a reserve area has also been identified in Dorset. You can read our reaction to the announcement here.
The Wildlife Trusts are firmly opposed to a badger cull. We believe there are alternative methods which should be used to tackle the bovine TB problem. Read on to find out more about our views. Dorset Wildlife Trust, like Gloucestershire and Somerset Wildlife Trusts, has announced it will not allow culling on its land.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that culling badgers is not the answer to the bovine TB problem
The Wildlife Trusts are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB (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. Biosecurity and vaccination should be at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease rather than a badger cull.
Tackling the disease should therefore include the following measures:
- Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm.
- Badger vaccination: Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. We also urge Defra to continue development of an oral badger vaccine.
- Cattle vaccine: Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
How could a badger cull make the bovine TB problem worse?
Badgers typically live in social groups of four to seven animals with defined territorial boundaries. Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, increasing the risks of disease transmission as shown below.
This is known as the 'perturbation effect'. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB concluded in its final report (2007) that it was 'unable to conceive of a system of culling, other than the systematic elimination, or virtual elimination, of badgers over very extensive areas, that would avoid the serious adverse consequences of perturbation'.
What are The Wildlife Trusts doing?
Our involvement with this issue over a long period of time has led us to the conclusion that a sustained programme of vaccination, alongside improved biosecurity measures, would be the best means of tackling bTB. Read our briefing on how vaccination can help tackle bTB here.
The Wildlife Trusts are making the case for vaccination to the Government and we will continue to press them to reject the badger cull.
In 2011 Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first non-governmental organisation to begin deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. In the video below Dr Gordon McGlone, former Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust explains the results of their summer vaccination programme. You can also read a report on their work here. A number of other Trusts have joined Gloucestershire in carrying out vaccination programmes. You can find out more about what the Trusts are doing at the bottom of this page.
The Wildlife Trusts’ President Simon King OBE and our President Emeritus Sir David Attenborough have, along with others, articulated their views in this short film produced by The Badger Trust.
Email your MP to ask them to call for the cull to be stopped
MPs voted against the cull on 25 October but the vote was not binding on the Government. Email your local MP to ask them to continue to put pressure on the Government to scrap their cull plans and prioritise badger vaccination. We have produced this template letter to give you some ideas, but it is much better if you can personalise it with your own thoughts. You can find out if your MP spoke or voted in the debate on 25 October here.
Sign the government epetition
The petition has now passed 160,000 signatures. But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing! http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257
Email your MEP (find their details) to ask them to press for the EU ban on a cattle vaccine to be lifted
A cattle vaccine is the long term solution to the bTB problem, but EU rules currently prevent it from being tested and used in this country. Find out why here.
Support Wildlife Trusts’ work
The key to convincing the Government to reject the culling of badgers is to show that vaccination is a viable way to control bovine TB. Join or donate to your local Wildlife Trust
A number of Wildlife Trusts are carrying out vaccination programmes, but they need your support. If we can demonstrate the effectiveness of badger vaccination we can convince the Government to abandon the cull.
Our vaccination schemes
You can find out more about what the Trusts are doing and how you can help them show that vaccination is the way forward through the links below.
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