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August 28, 2013

Badger Cull Roll-Out Plans: Could Your County Be Next?

Humane Society International/UK

  • Plans are underway to roll out the cull to other areas of England. Stuart Matthews

As the badger cull gets underway in Somerset and Gloucestershire this week, we’re working on submitting our response to the government’s draft strategy for achieving "Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free" status for England.

Launched by Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson and Farming Minister David Heath in early July, the 25-year plan includes provisions for a “wider roll-out of badger culling subject to successful pilot culls” across England.

It identifies 16 counties, in the southwest and West Midlands plus an area in East Sussex, as bovine tuberculosis “High-Risk Areas” where the aim is to “address the wildlife reservoir and strengthen cattle controls to move to [Officially bTB-Free] status within 25 years”. Badger culling is clearly identified as a key part of the plans for these areas.

Roll-out plans

Should the DEFRA Ministers decide that the shooting of thousands of free-roaming badgers at night is humane and the pilot culls are deemed successful, a decision that is likely to be made as early as spring 2014 by ministers, the strategy includes rolling out badger culling to High-Risk Areas.

In total, over the lifetime of the proposed cull, as many as 130,000 badgers could be shot and killed—that’s a third of the UK’s badger population and almost half of the population in the southwest of England.

Parliamentary debate

Ministers will advise the House of Commons of the decision, but there are no plans to give Members of Parliament the opportunity to debate the issue or vote on roll-out proposals.

Now MPs are now calling on government, through Early Day Motion 299, to allow them to debate and vote on the issue—before any decision to roll out the cull is made.

High-risk areas

The counties identified as High-Risk Areas in the DEFRA consultation include all or part of: Avon, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The list also includes Gloucestershire and Somerset, the two counties where the pilot cull is taking place.

Find out more about our campaign to protect badgers.

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