Badgers are being culled as part of a government initiative to reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. In September 2017 the Government licenced 11 new areas for badger culling in western England. Further areas were licensed in 2018 and 2019. 2020 saw the largest ever cull authorised by the government, with culling taking place in six additional counties, including Derbyshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire.
Recent Government proposals suggest an end to granting cull licences in 2022, however this could still result in another 130,000 badgers culled during the following four years to 2026.
Essex Wildlife Trust is fully aware that TB in cattle is a significant problem for farming in the UK and that urgent action is required to combat the disease. The Trust believes that action to address bovine TB should be based on clear scientific evidence that can be effectively applied in practice. The government has now launched a consultation on measures to reach bovine TB-free status in England by 2038.
Essex Wildlife Trust believes that the best means of tackling bTB are through a sustained programme of vaccination with a BCG vaccine (Bacillus Calmette Guerin), alongside improved biosecurity measures with improved testing and controls on cattle movement.