Government gives green light to 11 new badger culling areas

The Government has given the green light for an additional 11 badger cull areas, in addition to reauthorising licences for 33 existing cull areas.

The new areas licensed by Natural England, some of which are in the edge area, are in Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire, Somerset, Shropshire, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Derbyshire and Avon.

Defra Secretary George Eustice said: “Bovine TB is one of the most difficult and intractable animal health challenges that the UK faces today, causing considerable trauma for farmers and costing taxpayers over £100 million every year.

“No one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely. That is why we are accelerating other elements of our strategy, including vaccination and improved testing so that we can eradicate this insidious disease and start to phase out badger culling in England.”

Defra said all applications received were carefully assessed to ensure that each cull company has suitable arrangements and plans in place to carry out an operation that is safe, effective and humane.

Earlier this year, the government published its response to the Godfray Review which sets out the next phase of its 25-year bTB eradication strategy. Defra said its response outlines out the government’s intention to phase out intensive badger culling in the next few years, while ensuring that wildlife control remains a tool that can be deployed where the scientific evidence supports it.

The government’s response to the Godfray Review outlined the need for a combined approach which includes tighter cattle movement controls, regular testing, as well as badger and cattle vaccination to eradicate the disease in England by 2038.

In July, the government announced that ‘world-leading’ bovine tuberculosis (bTB) TB cattle vaccination trials are set to get underway in England and Wales as a result of a major breakthrough by government scientists. Defra hopes these trials will lead to the deployment of a cattle vaccine by 2025, which, in turn, will enable Government to begin phasing out intensive culling.

The government recently awarded £500,000 grant funding for projects that develop new tools to diagnose tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. The programme, run by Defra on behalf of England, Scotland and Wales, will fund innovative research projects using cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning aimed at detecting infection in cattle herds faster.

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