Derbyshire Wildlife Trust calls for public support to end badger cull license programme

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is calling on the public to respond to a Government’s consultation on badger culling as it spearheads a national campaign to halt the controversial policy with immediate effect.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 4:06 pm

The Middleton-by-Wirksworth charity wants Natural England and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to stop issuing new cull licenses with immediate effect, rather than in 2022 as the Government has proposed.

Chief executive Jo Smith said: “There is much confusion in the public domain about the Government proposals to end the badger cull.

“Recent media headlines stated that the cull would end in 2022 but the reality is that badger culling will continue until 2026 because the majority of cull licences last four years.”

The badger cull could continue until 2026 unless there is an immediate end to new licenses being issued.

According to the trust’s analysis, the difference between ending the licence programme now or next year could mean saving the lives of 130,000 badgers.

The practice of culling has been fiercely contested by farmers and animal rights activists in Derbyshire for several years, but the first full licenses were only issued locally last September.

The Government’s proposals have different implications for different parts of England.

In parts of the South West and West classed as high risk areas for bovine tuberculosis (bTB), the end of many years of badger culling may now be in sight.

But in those counties that lie in the ‘edge area’ like Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and other central counties, the proposals could lead to a rush in applications for badger cull licences that will allow the practice to continue into the middle of the decade.

Wildlife Trusts nationwide have consistently opposed the cull and believe that it is an ineffective tool in the fight against bTB, instead call ing for a mass vaccination programme for both cattle and badgers and a review of how cattle are transported in order to prevent infection spread.

The total badger population in England and Wales was estimated to be around 485,000 in 2017, and more than 140,000 are believed to have been culled already.

If the Government proposals go unchanged, that number could reach almost 300,000 by the time culling finally ends.

The consultation closes on Wednesday, March 24. To submit a response, go to https://bit.ly/3eOqSB7.

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