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 badgers culling, in western England. 2018 saw a further 11 sites announced, in at least the following counties: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire, Somerset and Staffordshire and the Low Risk Area in Cumbria. During 2019 Defra made an announcement about the new badger cull areas, including the reauthorisation of licences for 29 existing areas alongside a further 11 additional areas. Now in 2020, the largest ever cull has been authorised by the government, with culling taking place in 6 additional counties, including Derbyshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire.
Essex Wildlife Trust is seriously concerned about the impact bovine TB will have upon the local economy and the hardship it causes to the farming community.
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 review of the government strategy which drives the culls – the bovine TB eradication strategy – is still underway.
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.