Over 10,000 badgers killed in England in 2016

In one area an average of 59 badgers were killed per day during the cull.

The results of the 2016 badger cull are in, and they make sombre reading. Over 10,000 badgers have been killed in just a matter of weeks across 10 cull areas in the South West of England.

To put this in perspective, this isn’t simply another year, another badger cull. Over seven times as many badgers were killed this year than in 2015. This is nearly three times as many badgers as were killed in the preceding three years’ worth of culls put together. 10,866 is a big number. In one area an average of 59 badgers were killed per day during the cull.

Over seven times as many badgers were killed this year than in 2015.

And for what? The Government’s claims that the cull is helping tackle bovine TB just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

The Government’s response has been predictably misjudged. They have lauded this latest round of culls as a ‘success’ and, worryingly, are now consulting on rolling out further ongoing culls to maintain these reduced badger populations in years to come. To call this a success is a gross disservice to both conservationists and farmers alike. The Government has produced no evidence this 2016 cull has reduced rates of bovine TB. Indeed many experts have highlighted rises in TB rates amongst cattle as a major by-product of this activity. When one population of badgers is disrupted or killed, other badgers are likely to move into their territory – and this movement can actually spread more disease.

To call the cull a success based purely on the number of badgers killed shines a spotlight on its real purpose - not to help struggling farmers get to grip with the blight of bovine TB, but to kill copious amounts of native wildlife in an effort to pay lip service to a desperate agricultural community.

In 2015 28,000 cattle were killed due to TB. These deaths cost the UK taxpayer over £100 million a year and cause untold ruin to farmers. The need for action is clear, but we need solutions that are proven to work such as better testing regimes, enhanced bio-security measures and stricter cattle movement controls. The badger cull is being held up as some sort of mystic totem, warding off TB. But the simple, sad fact is you could kill every single badger in the UK and you would still have bovine TB.

In the meantime our wildlife is suffering. One of the most worrying details to emerge from this latest cull is quite how little those implementing the cull know about badger populations. Estimates of local badger populations were so poor that they had to be revised after the culls had already begun - some were more than doubled while others were more than halved, so huge were the changes made. This change allowed an additional 1,260 badgers over the original maximum target to be legally killed in one area in Dorset. There is a very real possibility that the poor quality of the population estimates used could lead to the accidental extinction of badgers in some local areas. This is a travesty that we must avoid at all costs.

It’s time the Government took bovine TB seriously, and used evidence to judge the best course of action, for the sake of British badgers and British farmers alike.

We need your support to help stop the badger cull. Please make your voice heard and sign the petition calling on the Government to halt plans for further culls by clicking on the button below.

--DC

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