Shropshire Wildlife Trust 'aghast' at Government's badger cull plan
The Shropshire Wildlife Trust has accused the Government of ignoring its own advice as it gives the green light to a cull of thousands of badgers.
Government agency Natural England has issued licences for 11 new areas of England, including Shropshire, alongside re-authorising licences for 33 areas of the country where culling has already taken place in previous years.
Licence holders will carry out operations under a four-year licence, and it is hoped that the cull will help control tuberculosis in cattle.
A licence allows badger control to take place in the licensed control area every year between June 1 and January 31.
The maximum number of badgers that can be killed in the Shropshire licence area has been set at 5,676. Wildlife Trusts say that more than 60,000 badgers will be killed in all, or about 35 per cent of the country's population.
A statement from Shropshire's wildlife trust said that it is "aghast" at the proposals.
Helen Trotman, people and wildlife manager for the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said that the move threatens existing vaccination programmes by putting badgers that have been vaccinated at risk.
“Shropshire Wildlife Trust remains adamant that a cull is not necessary for the control of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) if alternative approaches including vaccination are fully implemented," she said.
"Culling does not address the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB, cattle-to-cattle transmission and it won’t eradicate TB from badgers. This government has repeatedly said it will be guided by the science, yet it seems to be ignoring its own advice.
"There are badger vaccinations going on in Shropshire... it could mean vaccinated badgers are being culled which would be a waste of resources.
"It's shocking to think that a third of our badger population could be gone by the end of the year."
She said that badgers have a good distribution around Shropshire, partly because they favour earthworm-rich land that is used for dairy farming.
The trust has campaigned against the culling of badgers and advocates the development of a cattle vaccine instead, along with DEFRA-funded badger vaccination and incentives aimed at improving biosecurity on farms and during the movement of cattle.
In 2012 Shropshire Wildlife Trust undertook the first badger vaccination programme in Shropshire and is currently supporting the vaccination efforts of Shropshire Badger Group, who are vaccinating another reserve.
To learn more, visit shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgers-and-tb.