Fear badger culling will not halt disease

Plans to kill thousands of badgers to help stop the spread of tuberculosis in cattle would actually make the problem worse, the Government’s own advisors have warned.

Plans to kill thousands of badgers to help stop the spread of tuberculosis in cattle would actually make the problem worse, the Government’s own advisors have warned.

Farmers have long blamed badgers for spreading the disease, which, they say, costs the industry – and taxpayers– £100 million each year. An estimated 2,000 cattle will be slaughtered in Shropshire this year.

The number of cattle slaughtered in 2003 in Shropshire was 473 but that figure had jumped to 2,165 by 2010, farmers’ leaders said.

Pilot culls are to be introduced in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset this year, and could also be introduced in Wales.

If successful, a maximum of 40 badger culls could be introduced across Britain.

But according to Natural England, the Government’s own advisors, badger culling will only work if carried out over large areas resulting in the killing of thousands of badgers.

Natural England says the cull must be carried out scientifically, with badgers trapped before being shot, and this must be done over a period of no more than 10 days.

The Government favours a cheaper option of ‘free shooting’ by marksmen over a period of six weeks.

Natural England says this will let too many badgers escape.

Its recommendations were obtained by Labour using Freedom of Information laws. Campaigners want a judicial review of the Government’s position.

Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh MP said the documents confirmed that Defra had ‘ignored scientists’ advice’ on the issue.

“The scientists confirm that the Government’s cull could spread TB in cattle if farmers fail to oversee an effective cull,” she said.

“Ministers should listen to the scientists and cancel this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

A Defra spokesman said the Government ‘had taken on board’ all responses to its consultation.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Comments for: "Fear badger culling will not halt disease"


Culling has never helped. What would help, but would require our farmers to be slightly smarter than they are ... is vaccinating the badgers. I don't expect British farmers to 'get' the point of this in a million years. Or until it is imnposed on us by the EU, who have saved us from ourselves so many times before.


How does vaccination "cure" sick Badger's that have TB? I was under the impression that vaccination only prevented healthy populations from getting a disease. As there has been no culling of diseased Badgers for 30 years then a massive number in the Population, in effected areas, must be infected with TB. Vaccination will not cure these.

Further at least about 80% of Badgers would need to be caught and Vaccinated if it was going to have a significant effect, we are constantly told that under the RBCT only between 40% and 70% of Badger were caught using the trapping method proposed if Vaccination was used. This would if attempted be a huge waste of money and time.

Katherine de Gama

Btw Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is trialling badger vaccination. Glos is one of the two counties chosen for culling

Jayne Oliver

Government's advisors also state that if the cull takes place badgers could be wiped out in certain parts of the country.

We also know that farmers allow cows with TB to go into the food chain whilst keeping their healthy animals.

Farmers need to wake up. We won't take this rubbish any more.

Give up drinking milk, or even better stop eating cows.

Jayne Oliver

I have just seen a forum post on the badger cull on Farmers Weekly. It shows the complete arrogance of farmers when one forum poster said 'stop waiting for nanny to tell you what to do. The answer is in our own hands to do it quietly'.

Badgers are a protected species. If any farmer shoots them they should be prosecuted.

Katherine de Gama

The wildlife rangers in the Forest of Dean (cull area)work closely with a specialist pc. If the farmers take the law into their own hands there they will find themselves in court.

Dave M

We should ban hunting first. It's now known that hunting spreads the disease.

Farmers also need to stop putting diseased cattle in our food chain.

Farmers get enough of our money in subsidies. It's about time they started realising they can't do what they want all the time.


So now we know the truth. The cull is cruel, unnecessary and won't work.

This government needs to listen.

Shropshire Lad

There is a specialist team, called Brock Vaccination, with a base in Shropshire who offer a service of badger vaccination to farmers and other landowners. They offer a proactive step that can be taken now to help reduce transmission risk from badgers to cattle. They have a good website with lots of information on badger vaccination.

Lyndsey Maiden

Badger culling is ineffective and has been shown to be so in a 10 year study. Vaccination will not help the sick badgers, however it will protect the badgers who are not sick. Those already with TB will die out fairly quickly. Actually what needs to happen is an agreement at an EU level on vaccination of cattle. If we could vaccinate cattle then it matters less if there is a TB reservoir in our wildlife which goes beyond badgers. Deer, otter, weasels, dogs, cats, humans etc etc all carry it.. Badgers are just despised which is why the cull focusses on them.

Jeraldine Seelye

It's not hard to come up with a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.

People will buy anything that is 'one to a customer.'