Badgers in Avon given a reprieve after Government announce the phasing out of culling

(c) Bertie Gregory

Badger culling is set to phase out the next five years as the Government sets out a new phase of their strategy to tackle bovine TB – a disease which causes devastation to farmers and their livelihoods.

Last summer, Avon Wildlife Trust began vaccinating badgers in a pilot programme to tackle the problem of bovine TB in badgers and demonstrate an alternative to the cull policy which has killed 68,000 badgers over the last few years across England. Now, the new Government strategy includes an intention to phase out intensive culls and replace them with government-supported badger vaccination.

The changes will not be immediate and cull licences will still be issued in areas where they are already in place and potentially new areas – including in parts of Avon – but the move is an acknowledgement that culling wild badgers is not a viable long-term strategy.

Ian Barrett, Avon Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted that finally the Government is moving towards a new approach to tackling bovine TB which is humane, cost-effective and joined up.  The end of culling is long overdue and has led to the loss of thousands of wonderful wild animals.

Our pilot vaccination programme which began last summer showed a cost-effective and viable alternative to culling. With Government funding promised, we look forward to badger vaccination rolling out right across our region, in partnership with farmers and landowners, who are keen to find solutions to this disease.  We are now looking at the detail of this strategy and how the three-pronged approach of badger vaccination, cattle vaccination and better farm biosecurity measures can be scaled up as quickly as possible. We want to ensure that our wild badgers have a flourishing future in a countryside that works for everyone.”

Avon Wildlife Trust’s successfully vaccinated 15 badgers on one site to give them protection from bovine TB and the charity is gearing up to continue this summer to vaccinate last year’s adults and this year’s cubs. 

Photo credits: Richard Hopkins: Bevis Watts