A Cheshire badger cull was announced by the government today as part of a fresh wave of badger culling over a much wider area of the UK than in previous years.
“We were dismayed to find this morning that the government had granted a licence for the culling of badgers in Cheshire,” said Martin Varley, Director of Conservation. “Our Trust, alongside Wildlife Trusts, across the UK, remain opposed to this cull on the basis that scientific evidence indicates that culling is unlikely to make a significant improvement in cattle infection rates. Our view is it is better to concentrate on vaccination of cattle, and increased biosecurity on land in the short-term as more effective means of control.”
Badger culls have been given the go-ahead in Cheshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset. Almost 15,000 badgers have been killed since culls began in 2013.
“We work closely with many farmers and 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,” said Martin Varley. “Like all Wildlife Trusts, we feel that this cull is going against science and that the government should be instead be putting more resources into speeding up the development of an effective cattle vaccine, amongst other measures.”
The Government spent almost £450,000 on communications equipment alone to support the culls between 2016-2017. This money could have been invested in cattle vaccine research or used to vaccinate nearly 5,500 badgers.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust supports the vaccination of badgers in the short-term as a more effective means of control. “We would like to encourage people to support and volunteer with Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group who have an ongoing badger vaccination programme, and we welcome the Government’s announcement that there will be enough supplies of vaccine to allow Defra’s Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme to resume in 2018,” said Martin Varley.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust will not be giving permission for a badger cull take place on its reserves.