‘HORRIFIED’ wildlife chiefs in Warwickshire have hit out at the Government after it revealed badgers were being culled at two sites in the county.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published details of 69 new areas in England where badger culling had been taking place in 2022 and would continue into this year, in an attempt to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle.
The documents show licenses to shoot free-roaming or trapped badgers have been in place since the end of August and would continue until the end of this month at two Warwickshire sites – the locations of which have not been made public.
The CEO of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust says the approach is not effective in controlling the disease.
Ed Green said: “Culling is a cruel and indiscriminate way of killing our largest land carnivore. It means healthy badgers across Warwickshire are being shot and killed.
“We understand the hardship that bTB causes in the farming community and the need to control the disease. However, The Wildlife Trusts believe the badger cull is not the answer because badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle, so culling is destined to fail.”
Joan Edwards, director of policy and public affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, added: “The Wildlife Trusts are horrified that as many as 68,000 badgers could be killed across the 69 locations across England where culling will take place.
“We believe an evidence-based and scientifically reliable approach must be developed to counteract the risk posed to cattle by bTB. Culling badgers is not the answer.
“The primary route of bTB infection is from cattle-to-cattle. There is work being done to accelerate the introduction of an effective cattle vaccine and improved bTB testing in cattle – these offer the best long-term way to reduce bTB in the cattle population.”
The Wildlife Trusts called on the Government to end the cull, accelerate the roll-out of a cattle vaccine, and implement livestock movement restrictions as soon as possible.
A Defra spokesperson said: “Our bTB eradication strategy is working and has brought about a significant reduction in this disease.
“As a result of the progress made, we are now able to move onto the next phase of the long-term eradication strategy, including the expansion of badger vaccination projects alongside improved cattle testing and work towards developing a cattle vaccine.
“We have always been clear we don’t want to continue the current badger cull longer than absolutely necessary.
“If we were to cut short our long-term strategy for tackling bTB, this would risk losing the disease control benefits that have been made over the past decade.”