Derbyshire Wildlife Trust says its 'deeply concerned and saddened' that the badger cull is being extended this year, including to a neighbouring county, Cheshire – a decision the charity claims goes against scientific advice.
Badger culls have been given the go-ahead in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Somerset. Almost 15,000 badgers have been killed since culls began in 2013.
The Trust is concerned that this culling is putting local populations of badgers at risk in affected parts of the British countryside. Wildlife Trusts across the UK are now urging Natural England to publish the information they hold on the impact of the badger cull on the wider environment.
In addition, the charity has called on the Government to carry out tests on all badgers shot for bovine TB.
Collectively, The Wildlife Trusts are calling on the Government to stop killing badgers. This will not eradicate Bovine TB in cattle.
The Wildlife Trusts’ Director Steve Trotter says: “A healthy wildlife rich natural world is valuable in its own right, and badgers are an important part of our countryside and culture. We work closely with many farmers, day in, day out, and we recognise the pain and hardship of those whose cattle herds have been devastated by bovine tuberculosis (bTB), but killing badgers will not solve the problem.
"Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle: the primary route of infection is cattle-to-cattle contact. The Government's badger cull is flying in the face of science. It should be putting more resources into speeding up the development of an effective cattle vaccine, amongst other measures.”
In Derbyshire, the Trust have been vaccinating badgers since 2014, and this year have just celebrated vaccinating the 100th badger of the season. The Trust developed the badger vaccination programme with a number of partners including the National Trust and the Derbyshire Badger Groups, and has been working with famers and landowners to ensure vaccinations are successful.
Tim Birch, Head of Living Landscapes North has been calling for a cattle vaccine to be developed, Tim said, “A cattle vaccine needs to be top priority to tackle Bovine Tuberculosis, not badger culling. It costs far less to vaccinate badgers rather than shoot them so it makes financial sense.
"More worryingly, culling badgers can actually cause Bovine TB to increase in an area according to scientific studies in what is known as the perturbation effect where badgers are scattered through the landscape away from the cull zone. We believe there needs to be several measures of control that work alongside each other, badger vaccination, cattle vaccination and better biosecurity and cattle movement controls. The badger cull will not eradicate Bovine TB in cattle."