In 2013 our government started culling badgers as part of their 25 year bovine TB strategy, to much opposition from scientists, naturalists, many MPs and members of the public alike. The decision to cull badgers in attempt to control, bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was based on the government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King's interpretation of the conclusions drawn from the Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT). His interpretation was in contrast to that drawn by the Independent Scientific Group who undertook the RBCT, who state in their conclusion that, 'careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better'.
Still the pilot badger culls went ahead in two zones, in Somerset and Gloucestershire, which were intended to test the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the controlled shooting of badgers. The aim was to kill 70% of the badgers within the cull zones, over a six week period, using the controlled shooting method predominantly: where marksmen shoot free running badgers, without cage trapping them first. An Independent Expert Panel was put in place to monitor these culls. They found them to be safe, but both ineffective in removing the required number of badgers that is required according to government guidance to have a positive impact upon the incidence of bTB, and inhumane, with over 5% of badgers examined taking over 5 minutes to die from their injuries. The Independent Expert Panel was disbanded following the first year of culling.
Since then, despite all the contrary evidence and opinion, the culls have been rolled out to many more parts of the country, with tens of thousands of badgers being killed with little to no independent monitoring. The government has recently rolled out culling in areas with a low risk of bTB incidence.
I find it hard to write this in a concise manner, without getting caught up in the injustice of what is being done to such a beautiful native species that has walked this land for hundreds of thousands of years. It is overwhelming. I am by no means alone. People all over the country, all over the world, have campaigned, protested, contacted their MPs and signed petitions to try to bring an end to the badger culls. If, like me, you feel a bit helpless then the organisations and charities listed below are still fighting strong to protect our badgers. You will find a wealth of information about the badger culls, vaccination projects, new scientific developments and what you can do to get involved and help our badgers: whether it is campaigning, raising money or joining Wounded Badger Patrols.
While they're still killing, we will never stop fighting.
The Badger Trust - Our national badger charity.
The Wildlife Trusts - An umbrella organisation for the local Wildlife Trusts around the country.
The Save Me Trust - A wildlife charity founded by Dr Brian May and Anne Brummer to give wild animals a voice.
Team Badger - A coalition of organisations that are working together to fight the cull and protect badgers.