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Badger Cull in Cheshire

Monday 11th September 2017

Badgers and bTB (c) Jon Hawkins(c) Jon Hawkins

Latest Update

11/9/17

Government announces badger cull licence in Cheshire: we were dismayed to find this morning that the government has granted a licence for the culling of badgers in Cheshire.

The licence covers the duration from 11 September 2017 (today) until 31 January 2021 (inclusive) (or such longer period as may be specified by Natural England).

The method that the licence gives permission for are live-capture cage trapping and humane dispatch of trapped badgers by shooting and for controlled shooting of badgers . Only individuals authorised in writing by Natural England are permitted to undertake any of these licensed operations by or on behalf of the Licence Holder. Land owners must also have granted permission for these activities to take place on their land.

The authorisation letter states:
“The minimum number of badgers that you should aim to kill within the licence area during this open season is 563; the maximum number of badgers which may be killed within the licence area by all permitted methods during this open season is 764; we are satisfied that approximately 90% of the land within the licence area is either accessible or within 200m of accessible land.”

Cheshire Wildlife Trust remains opposed to this cull on the basis that scientific evidence indicates that culling is unlikely to make a significant improvement in cattle infection rates. It is also not known what proportion of this disease in cattle arises from badgers. Our view is it is better to concentrate on vaccination of cattle in the long-term, and increased biosecurity on land and the vaccination of badgers in the short-term as more effective means of control.

We will not be giving permission for a badger cull take place on our reserves.

We won’t give support to groups who are prepared to act outside the law, but we are encouraging people to support and volunteer with Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group who have an ongoing badger vaccination programme.

7/9/17

A meeting is being held at Cheshire East Council on Tuesday (September 12) where it is expected that the motion to prevent the protected animals from the cull and instead embark and support vaccination – will be rejected. However, the authority is expected to continue to oppose any such culling on council owned land.

The Animal Plant Health Authority (APHA) has advised that the North Region (including Cheshire) has 10 applications for culling to consider and in all likelihood all 10 areas will be granted permission to proceed.

31/8/17

Further up-date from Natural England in response to our enquiries:

"Further to our telephone conversation of 21st August and your original enquiry of 17th July, I can confirm that information regarding the applications or the number of applications currently being processed is not being released at this time. Details of licences will be released on the Gov.uk website once they are issued. Further, participants cannot undertake licensable activities on their land without permission from their landlord or other person with an interest in their land."

29/8/17

There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about a badger cull potentially taking place in Cheshire soon.

We have heard from number of sources across the region that a badger cull could start in Cheshire East as soon as the end of this week (1st September); but have still not had any confirmation from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or Natural England – despite asking a number of times.

The last response that we received from Natural England explained:

“A licence to control badgers for the prevention of disease would only be issued in the worst affected areas of the country – areas currently under annual routine TB testing (predominantly within the West and South West of England).

We appreciate your reasons for wanting to know the locations where licensed operations will take place, however we are unable to release exact details or maps of any of the control areas, individual land holdings or participants because of concerns for public safety. The culling of badgers is a sensitive issue and we are withholding this information on the basis that publication may cause both unnecessary or unjustified distress or damage to the individuals; and may increase the likelihood of groups opposed to the policy disrupting control activity.”

We are continuing to seek confirmation and have also submitted a freedom of information request around this issue. This page will be updated, as we hear more.

Whilst we are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB causes in the farming community we remain firmly opposed to the Government’s continued strategy of putting badger culling at the heart of efforts to tackle the disease. We do not believe that a cull is the answer.

Previous culls have failed and scientific evidence indicates that culling is unlikely to make a significant improvement in cattle infection rates. It is also not known what proportion of this disease in cattle arises from badgers. Our view is it is better to concentrate on vaccination of cattle in the long-term, and increased biosecurity on land and the vaccination of badgers in the short-term as more effective means of control.

Badgers and their setts are legally protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. If a cull is announced we will not be giving permission for it to take place on our reserves.

We won’t give support to groups who are prepared to act outside the law, but we are encouraging people to support and volunteer with Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group who have an ongoing badger vaccination programme.

Find out more about the action you could take to support badgers

(c) A Mason