Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is dismayed that the Government has issued new licenses to carry out ineffective and inhumane badger culls in seven new areas of England, including Hampshire.
Natural England announced on Tuesday that it was issuing new licences which will allow the killing of badgers in Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and two areas of Shropshire. The new licenses will allow over 6,000 badgers to be shot and killed in Hampshire over the next four years in an attempt to control bovine TB in cattle. Across the UK, 300,000 badgers out of an estimated population of 485,000 may have been killed by 2026.
The introduction of badger culling in Hampshire risks spreading the disease to areas of the county currently unaffected by bovine TB. The scientific evidence demonstrates that culling is ineffective in fighting the disease and can make the situation worse. Culling disrupts badger social structures causing them to move around more frequently and over longer distances. This leads to greater transmission of the disease and spreads bovine TB over a wider area, causing outbreaks in areas previously free of the disease.
There are more effective and humane methods available to control bovine TB and help farmers, including vaccination of badgers and cattle, more effective cattle testing and improved biosecurity measures. We believe the emphasis of all our efforts should be to find a long-term solution, and we are calling for the Government to end its policy of culling badgers.
Jack Norris, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Grazing Enterprise and Farm Manager, said:
“Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is appalled at the extension of culling sites into Hampshire despite the Government's pledge to stop the cull. The Trust run two farms and we work with farmers across our two counties to manage land for wildlife. As cattle owners, we understand only too well the hardship that bovine TB can cause farmers and we want to find long-term solutions that work for wildlife and people. As responsible farmers and landowners we have already taken action to increase biosecurity on our farms and carefully plan our cattle’s movements to minimise risk to our own grazing herds and other local farmers in Hampshire.
The Trust make decisions on conservation land management and farming based on the best available scientific information – the Government’s own publications state that culling badgers in high incidence areas will only make the problem worse in the surrounding areas, both in Hampshire and across the UK. We continue to call on the Government to stop killing badgers and instead invest in measures that protect wildlife, cattle and farmers, including the continued development of a workable cattle vaccine, more effective TB tests and an oral badger vaccine. Measures that support farmers to improve biosecurity and enable them to reduce the movement of higher risk cattle will also be a vital part of effectively controlling bovine TB.”