Avon Wildlife Trust Opposes Proposal to Extend Badger Culling Areas to Avon

The Government has announced a proposal to increase badger culling – including into our Avon region for the first time – and Avon Wildlife Trust is joining with The Wildlife Trusts nationally to express our deep concern about the impact of these plans.

The background on badger culling

Across England, badgers are being culled as part of a government initiative to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle – a disease which causes serious loss in cattle herds and financial hardship for farmers. Pilot badger culls began in 2013 in Gloucestershire and Somerset, and since then the number of separate cull areas across the country has increased to 21 across eight counties; Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Somerset.

So far, the current strategy has resulted in 34,000 badgers being culled. And between 2012 and 2014, £16.8 million of public money was spent on culling – almost £6,800 for each badger killed. Now, there are new proposals to increase the number of cull zones that could be licensed each year, including an area within Avon. Because the location of cull zones is not made public, we don’t know exactly where this will be. But wherever it’s proposed to happen we want to stop badgers in our region being culled.

Badger populations are found across our region in woodlands close to farmland and open countryside, including on many of our nature reserves like Folly FarmBrowne’s Folly and Priors Wood. These distinctive, nocturnal mammals – Britain’s largest land predator – are much-loved by the public, with opinion polls showing people are overwhelmingly against the killing of badgers.

Our position

We have joined with The Wildlife Trusts nationally in actively opposing the badger cull and we continue to believe that culling badgers is inhumane, costly and ineffective in controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The evidence shows that badgers are not the primary culprits in the spread of this disease, and long-term trials by the Government showed that culling could actually make the situation worse by encouraging badgers to move around – the ‘perturbation effect’ (a link to a report by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB is here). We are calling for other actions, including speeding up research into cattle vaccination, and reducing the spread of bovine tuberculosis between cattle as better alternatives to culling.

Join us in opposing badger culling in Avon

Three separate Government consultations have opened for members of the public and organisations to respond to. Unfortunately, the consultation which specifically focuses on the proposed new badger cull areas like Avon, is open only to comments on how people’s livelihoods and daily activities might be affected. Comments for or against the badger cull policy will not be considered.

But we can still raise our voices and show how much we oppose badger culling in Avon. In the next month our chief executive, Ian Barrett, will be meeting three of our region’s MPs and will be raising this issue with them. Please write to your MP, share your views on social media, and talk to your friends and family about this issue as we call for plans to license badger culling in Avon to be withdrawn, and for the Government to rethink this harmful policy.

Useful Links

You can find contact details for your MP by following this link
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

You can read more about The Wildlife Trusts position on badger culling here
http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/badger-cull

and the evidence showing badger culling is the wrong policy here http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/badger-cull/science

You can find the Government’s consultation on the proposed new badger cull zones here. This closes at 11.59pm on Monday 19th March 2018.
https://consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-england/8899f8e7/