Living in badger culling country

Badger culling - it may not be a cruel sport, but stopping the cull and supporting charities campaigning against the cull such as the Badger Trust is close to our hearts at the League, especially mine. I often amuse my colleagues with my fascination of all things badger including sharing pictures of badger latrines (you cannot beat that)!

I live in a beautiful part of the world on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border but behind the beauty of the Cotswold countryside is the killing of thousands of badgers which takes place at night, either by cage trapping or free shooting at certain times of the year.

My personal story started when my then-local MP, David Cameron, announced the cull of badgers in 2013 as a way to tackle the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

I felt enraged and began campaigning, organising and helping at marches around the country, joining passionate people in checking setts and taking part in wounded badger patrols in Gloucestershire. It was an eye opener. Not only were these badgers facing a legal cull but they were also facing illegal persecution which included setts filled with wire, and others which were burnt or blocked with soil.

Emily Lawrence, Regional Campaigns Manager at the League at badger cull rally.

From 2013 onwards the cull crept nearer and nearer to my house and in 2016 it landed three miles from my doorstep.

This year many areas including parts of Gloucestershire have become ‘supplementary zones’ which means that badgers can be shot here from June 1 to January 31. If badgers are being killed in June there is a chance that cubs will be shot that could be just a few of months old.

Since 2013, 104,000 badgers have been killed in the badger cull. A huge total, with very few being tested for bTB.

To put it in perspective, especially for me as a gig-goer, there are 74,500 seats in the Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, so the number of culled badger could fill the stadium almost twice over.

Being against the badger cull I often have been trolled by some farmers, farm vets and landowners who accuse me of not caring about the cattle. This, however, is untrue. I think the death of any sentient being is tragic. At Oxfordshire Badger Group we have a good relationship with many landowners and farmers who vaccinate badgers on their land and who would like to see a no-kill policy.

In March, responding to the Godfray Review, the government said it would commit to non-lethal control, phasing out culling and move towards vaccination in both cattle and badgers.

However, a recent leaked document showed that the government is now planning to extend the cull to 11 new areas, to counties like Derbyshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Shropshire where badger vaccination programmes are already in place.

This will mean in total there will be 54 areas of culling including the 10 supplementary zones. Many of these zones have vaccination already in place either by local badger groups or the local branch of the Wildlife Trust.

In 2014 I joined my local badger group, Oxfordshire, keen to help badgers in my county. We are all devastated that the cull is now possibly coming to our county where we are in our second year of badger vaccination working with farmers and landowners. It would make far more sense for the government to invest in vaccination programmes such as ours instead of spending millions on shooting them.

Bovine TB is a devastating disease and we all want to see the end of it but by strengthening cattle measures, improved testing of cattle and vaccination of cattle and badgers must be the way to go.

If you want to help raise awareness of the issues faced by badgers please join a local supporter group or become a member of the League.

Although times are different, and we cannot currently campaign on the streets as we usually would, there are plenty of other ways to raise these issues.

  • Watch and share our recent badger film
  • Write to your MP and ask them to end culling
  • Contact your local badger protection group and see what you can do.

Together we can campaign to make a better world for badgers and end persecution of animals in cruel sports too.

Emily Lawrence, Regional Campaigns Manager at the League

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