For the third year running a controversial cull of badgers is underway in parts of England. With the stated aim of tackling TB in cattle, the killing began in 2013 in the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire, continued in 2014, and has now been expanded to include Dorset in 2015.
Sep 3, 2015
Despite the overwhelming result of a parliamentary debate, findings from an Independent Expert Panel and widespread opposition on scientific, humanitarian and practical grounds, the Government has once again continued with its disastrous policy of badger culling in an attempt to eradicate bovine TB.
How can you help?
Now more than ever, the badgers need your support. If you can, please join our friends at their local groups to help protect badgers in their respective counties.
To organise liftsharing to the zones join this Facebook group.
Background to the 2015 badger culls
According to figures released by Defra in December 2014, 274 badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and 341 in Somerset, out of a target figure of 615-1091 and 316-785 badgers respectively. This proves that the current planned method of tackling bovine TB through wildlife culling is ineffective.
We had hoped that the Environment Secretary Liz Truss would take the opportunity to re-examine the whole approach to the control of bovine TB, including the clear evidence against continuing with the badger cull, but sadly this is not the case.
The League provided support and funding for equipment needed by badger patrol groups Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting and Somerset Against The Badger Cull in 2014 as it was clear we would need boots on the ground when the culls commenced.
Also, to show our solidarity with activists taking part in wounded badgers patrols in the cull zone, the League along with our Vice President Bill Oddie, joined them in both cull zones to help generate attention towards their tireless work. See the feature in the Daily Mirror here.
The Government had previously planned to roll out the culls to ten other areas in 2014, but dropped this plan following the publication of the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report into the pilot culls which concluded that they were 'ineffective and failed the humane test'.
However, on Friday 28th August 2015, not only were the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire announced to continue, but against all scientific evidence the government has allowed culling to begin in neighbouring county Dorset. This is a particularly alarming move as the four year pilot scheme in Somerset and Gloucestershire are only half way through and their effectiveness in reducing incidence of bTB in cattle not yet known.
It is a scandal that the Government refused to put in place any independent expert review process of the planned culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. Without independent analysis, there can be no proper assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation and so we wholly opposed this decision. Our Team Badger partners at the Badger Trust applied for a judicial review to contest the decision. It was granted and the High Court hearing took take place on Thursday 21 August 2014 but unfortunately failed
In March 2014 Team Badger also secured a full day back bench business debate in which MPs voted overwhelmingly (219 – 1) in support of a motion stating that the trial badger culls have 'decisively failed'. Whilst clearly demonstrating the strength of feeling on the matter within Parliament, sadly this vote was not binding and the Government has continued with its plans to cull badgers.