These were the conclusions in 2014 that the ‘Independent professional Panel’ appointed through DEFRA (the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to assess the humaneness and also effectiveness the the previous year pilot culls of europe badgers in England in the initiatives to control the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in dairy cattle herds. 

The culls had ‘free’ shooting as well as cage-trapping and also shooting in two locations with high bTB incidence in the south west the England. 

It might have been supposed that in finish the policy was not just ineffective, but also inhumane the the culling policy could have ceased.

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An unpopular policy

However, fast-forward come 2017 and also these culls which have actually been hugely unpopular through the general public have been relentlessly sought by the present Conservative federal government at the insistence of the nationwide Farmers Union every year. 

This is regardless of a 2014 ComRes poll, which showed that nine out of 10 people who to express an opinion want the UK government to avoid culling badgers and instead combat bTB through cattle measures alone as had actually been done in Wales.

Instead, the culls have ongoing to expand.

Killing fields

In 2017, a additional 11 brand-new culling areas in England were presented (bringing the full to 21 areas across eight counties in the southern west, west and north west of England).

This perhaps condemned much more than 33,000 badgers come a premature fatality in 2017 alone either by shoot them whilst trapped in a cage, or through ‘controlled’ (i.e. ‘free’) shooting of free-ranging badgers in the field. 

Adding humiliation to injury, the is not plan to check the badgers eliminated for the an illness and the vast bulk are likely to be healthy and balanced TB-free animals.


In 2015, 29,000 livestock were reportedly slaughtered as result of the detection the bTB in herds. 

In 2016 this number had risen to practically 40,000 despite the badger culls. 

As well as this enormous loss the life, the financial prices have been large for farmers and costs have also been pass on come taxpayers because that an estimated £100 million annually. 

bTB experimentation of cattle is notoriously insufficient with a considerable proportion the tests absent carriers the the condition (who might then go on to spread the an illness to brand-new herds) or generating ‘false positive’ results. 

Tens of hundreds of these animals have to be needlessly killed

‘Culling is necessary’

The NFU regards badgers together a ‘significant wildlife reservoir’ the the condition (although numerous other animals, domesticated and also wild can also harbour the disease) and also argues the their culling is crucial to manage bTB in addition to other steps such as enhanced biosecurity and also tighter controls of livestock movements roughly the country. 

Speaking come the BBC news, NFU representative Phil Latham dismissed the nightly walks of volunteers v ‘Wounded Badger Patrols’ throughout the culls together ‘a gross self-indulgence of people who are maybe not aware of the background of TB’. 

Whereas i’m sure plenty of words can describe trudging muddy publicly footpaths late at night in the wind and also rain whilst shots ring the end in the neighboring countryside, ns doubt that ‘gross self-indulgence’ would be among them.


One could hope that more attention might be payment to scientific research study than history and numerous leading specialists have condemned the continuation of the badger culling policy. 

Prof. Alistair MacMillan, vet advisor because that the Humane society and an ex-DEFRA advisor, formerly stated: “The scientific research is unambiguous and also the proof is clean – the culling that badgers is absolutely resulting in suffering, and it will certainly make no coherent difference to the spread of bovine TB in livestock in the UK.”

Also opposing the cull are commemorated naturalists such as kris Packham and also Sir David Attenborough too as huge conservation organisations including the RSPCA, RSPB, Badger Trust and the Wildlife Trusts. 

Many wildlife experts have condemned the death of badgers


Steve Trotter, manager of the Wildlife Trusts has said: “Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread out of bTB in cattle: the primary route of infection is cattle-to-cattle contact. 

“The Government’s badger cull is paris in the confront of science. 

“It need to be putting more resources into increasing the development of one effective cattle vaccine, among other measures.”

Shrouded in secrecy

These deep controversial and also divisive culls have actually been shrouded in secrecy, with new culling licences just publicly confirmed within days of the death commencing. 

This absence of transparency has made it practically impossible come distinguish between legalised culling and wildlife crime by opportunists. 

Being in a freshly allocated cull zone, the landscape lanes – peaceful and quiet by job – take it on a markedly sinister feel after dark, as farm and also shooters’ vehicles, neighborhood lampers et al. All took to the lanes and fields in the vicinity the badger setts. 

The darkness would periodically it is in punctuated by the sound the shots being fired, bringing v it the sadness and also anger that another animal’s life had actually just been taken. 

The NFU seems determined to kill pets at any kind of cost

Against the killing

Yet it has been heartening to watch how countless opponents the the cull such as ‘Wounded Badger Patrol’ volunteers, hunting saboteurs and other animal lovers from all walks the life – unsung wildlife heroes all of them – to be willing to give up your time (not to cite sleep!) come play one enormous duty in to reduce the decimation of the regional badger population. 

Meanwhile, countless locals have been completely oblivious come the night-time havoc and also butchery occurring in the landscape on your doorstep while they to be asleep.

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With incidents reported the intimidation and also harassment the badger ‘protectors’ from separation, personal, instance farmers and lampers, reckless control by shooters, and also WBP volunteers’ vehicle tyres gift slashed come name but a few, you can be forgiven for wondering come what extent the culls really room a genuine attempt to mitigate bTB or are simply being offered an possibility to kill an otherwise protected varieties by those who just take pleasure in death wildlife. 

The decision to not let noþeles or anyone was standing in the method of death badgers has been rather remarkable. 

Did I cite fireworks gift thrown at wounded badger patrols? 

I’m afraid the too… and also nor was it an isolated incident.

Wildlife professional Chris Packham has spoken out versus the culls (Photo: Jo Garbutt)


The ultimate losers of course have been the badgers who have the misfortune of having to live alongside humans and their ‘livestock’. 

Images that dead badgers native cull zones around the country, whether bagged up in the back of a truck, shot dead in a bloodied cage or left in a pile on the ground have been both sickening and also heartbreaking. 

Badger setts have been reported as being physically destroyed, and also at one farm the trouble was taken to cover the gates to a sett with a mix the earth and broken-up asbestos. 

It goes there is no saying these latter events are acts of wildlife crime, yet by sanctioning a cull the would absolutely seem to open up the floodgates for illegal badger persecution, something for which Britain has actually a long and shameful history of. 

Pause because that thought

Regardless the the motives for the cull; whether political favour, bloodlust or as part of a desperate effort to manage bTB, the killing proceeds due come the dairy product industry’s relentless demand for it and also ultimately due to our continued usage of their products. 

Whilst this slaughter continues, because that me it gives yet one more reason – as if the farm animal welfare, environmental and human health concerns weren’t enough currently – come eschew dairy products. 

For 10s of thousands of a native and otherwise protected wild pet to be killed in the last few years in England alone because that the sake of our love of milk and addiction come cheese must provide us stop for thought. 

These are some of the unseen, unheard, and often forgotten victim of the dairy industry… this iconic and enigmatic wild animals deserve far far better than that. 


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