Badger culling rolled out to Shropshire

A licence has been granted for badger culling in Shropshire as part of efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle, the Government has announced.

Government agency Natural England has issued licences for 11 new areas of England, alongside re-authorising licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place in previous years.

The latest expansion of the cull comes despite the Government signalling its intention to gradually phase out badger culling to tackle TB in livestock.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the next phase of the Government’s strategy to tackle bovine tuberculosis in cattle will involve field trials of a cattle vaccine, with work accelerated to deploy it within the next five years.

Under today's announcement licence holders will carry out operations under a four-year licence.

This allows badger control to take place in the licensed control area every year between June 1 and January 31.

Natural England has confirmed to the licence holders the minimum and maximum numbers of badgers they can remove.

In Shropshire, the maximum number is 5,676 for 2020.

Benefit

But Shropshire Badger Group has spoken out against the culling.

A spokesman for the charity said: "Badgers can catch bTB from cattle, so the best current option is to trap badgers and inject them with BCG vaccine before releasing them back into the wild.

"Government-funded research has proved that this non-lethal method can reduce the spread of bTB into healthy badgers by over 70 per cent, and this benefit is passed down to newborn cubs.

"Why is the Government not following its own research?

"Despite being cheaper and more humane than culling, why is the Government failing to provide adequate support or protection for badger vaccination projects across England?

"We urgently need a national badger vaccination strategy to fund training, equipment and communication of the scientific effectiveness of badger vaccination to farmers and landowners.

"The badger cull has proved costly, cruel and scientifically ineffective. The Government should immediately replace it with a bovine TB reduction strategy based on improved cattle bTB testing, cattle movement controls and biosecurity measures.

"These should be combined with vaccination of both cattle and badgers.

"This will offer a far better outcome for farmers, taxpayers and the protection of badgers."

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