Badgers are being killed by the UK government in what is known as the ‘badger cull’, which has taken place in certain parts of England since 2013. Thousands of badgers have been killed in what we, along with numerous independent scientists and animal welfare organisations, believe is a totally unjustified slaughter of a protected species.
The government believes that culling badgers will help reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle, an infectious disease that results in the slaughter of tens of thousands of cattle each year.
While some farmers fear that badgers transmit the disease to their cattle, that there is no conclusive evidence that this happens often enough to be significant. The main source of transmission for bTB is from cattle to cattle.
Badger Cull – the way forward
We agree that action is needed to tackle bTB as it is devastating for cattle and for farmers; however, the evidence shows the main source of transmission for bTB is cattle to cattle transmission. Killing badgers will not solve the problem. We believe it that this can be achieved through improved testing (i.e. better tests and mandatory annual and pre-movement testing for all cattle), more movement restrictions and rigorous biosecurity on farms.
While badgers are not the main source of bTB, badger vaccination is an alternative to culling. Vaccination programmes are happening in some areas of the country, including on League-owned sanctuary land, and we support the Badger Trust’s call for the government roll out badger vaccination nationally. We also agree the government must shift its focus to cattle-to-cattle transmission and swiftly deploy cattle vaccination.
In 2021, the government announced plans to phase out the culling of badgers, with no new licences for mass culling to be issued after 2022. However, this does not mean that the cull will end in 2022 – the new licences will run until 2025. While an eventual end to the badger cull will be welcome, it may be too little too late. The Badger Trust estimates that another 140,000 badgers may be killed before it does.
We have a long history of campaigning to protect badgers and played an instrumental role in the implementation of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. Our charitable status remit covers all areas of animal welfare, and we believe that our expertise in badgers is an asset in the campaign to stop the badger cull.
Why is the League opposed to the badger cull?
We believe that culling badgers in an attempt to tackle bTB in cattle is cruel, ineffective and inhumane. A 2014 report by an Independent Expert Panel of scientists appointed by Defra to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of the 2013 pilot badger culls, concluded:
- The culls did not even come close to reducing badger populations by 70%, the minimum level deemed to have any significant effect in reducing bTB in cattle
- Coverage of 70% of the land in the cull area, another essential criteria for having any significant effect, could not be confirmed
- Up to 18% of badgers shot were still alive after 5 minutes and at risk of experiencing marked pain, meaning up to 422 badgers may have suffered marked pain.
How can I help to stop the cull?
- Contact your MP
- Share this page on your social media