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2nd Jul, 2022

England could lose 60 per cent of badgers says Warwickshire wildlife CEO following cull extension news

THE BADGER cull should end immediately, says a wildlife boss in Warwickshire following announcements to extend it to 2026.

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust CEO Ed Green said the move could mean losing 60 per cent of England’s badgers.

New four-year licenses will be granted over the next two years, meaning badgers will continue to be shot until 2026 – by which time the Trust estimates 300,000 badgers out of a population of around 485,000 may have been culled.

It also says the UK has an international responsibility to conserve badgers, as a quarter of the European population is in the UK.

Mr Green said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ by the decision.

He said: “The Government has failed to listen to the public who want to see an immediate end to the badger cull. If a further 130,000 animals are killed within the next five years, we could lose 60 per cent of England’s badgers. This is desperately sad and will also have repercussions on the health of natural habitats because badgers are a keystone species, vital to a thriving ecosystem.

“Only last week, the Secretary of State George Eustice announced measures to protect and restore nature. Killing such a major part of the badger population in this country cannot be compatible with that ambition.”

While the wildlife trusts are sympathetic to the hardship bovine TB causes farmers, they do not believe culling badgers is an effective way of halting its spread.

They say accelerated research into cattle vaccination and improved testing regimes are urgently needed – and improved movement controls on cattle would minimize the risk of further spread.

Mr Green added: “Bovine TB is primarily spread by cattle. Cattle to cattle transmission is the major cause of infection and spread of bovine TB. Evidence demonstrates that culling is likely to be ineffective in fighting the disease and makes a bad situation worse by dispersing badgers over a wider area – resulting in increased disease transmission where bTB has reached the badger population.

“That’s why we want to see an immediate end to the badger cull and greater resources put into developing cattle vaccination as well as implementing widespread vaccination of badgers in England. Measures announced for these don’t go far enough.”

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