August 13, 2013
Badger Campaign Update
The UK government's pilot cull of badgers took place in Somerset and Gloucestershire during autumn 2013. The licence issued allowed for the shooting of badgers, by shotgun or rifle, for up to six weeks, to be repeated annually for four years.
The government is considering rolling out the cull to up to forty other areas of England over the coming years. 130,000 badgers could be at risk.
HSI is opposed to the cull. Find out more about our campaign work.
If you live in the UK, there are several actions you can take right now.
Timeline of events
10 April 2014: Excellent article by badger ecologist Dr Chris Cheeseman, "The Case Against Gassing Badgers".
5 April 2014: Read our response to comments made by Princess Anne about gassing badgers and horsemeat on the BBC's Countryfile programme.
3 April 2014: Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, confirmed today that there would be no roll out of culling to new areas of England this year. He did however confirm that the killing will continue in the two established cull zones, in Gloucestershire and Somerset. Read our press release.
27 March 2014: Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, confirmed in parliament today that his department is considering the Independent Expert Panel report and he will update parliament on the issue in due course.
13 March 2014: Members of Parliament voted 219 to 1 in favour of a motion urging the government to halt the badger cull. Although non-binding on the government, the result shows that the cull does not have parliamentary support. See which MPs voted (scroll to bottom of the page). During the debate it was confirmed that ministers have now received the Independent Expert Panel report.
7 March 2014: Inhumane, Ineffective & Unnecessary. Our executive director Mark Jones on why the culling must end.
5 March 2014: Channel 4 News report "Badger post mortems raise further questions over cull" featuring Secret World Wildlife Rescue in Somerset. Watch the news report.
3 March 2014: Watch our short video, The Badger Cull: A Welfare Disaster, featuring Bill Oddie.
28 February 2014: Badger suffering and biosecurity breaches were revealed in a set of Compliance Reports from Natural England's badger cull monitors. Some badgers were shot in the wrong body area including the head, or were wounded and had to be shot a second time. Read our report.
28 February 2014: Culls "failed humaneness test". Details of a report by the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) showed that between 6.4% and 18% of shot badgers took more than five minutes to die. The leaked information was reported on by the BBC. The Guardian also reported on the findings.
28 February 2014: The Bow Group issued its report "Time for a change of tack on bovine TB & badger culling" which put forward eight recommendations including working with conservation charities to rollout a national badger vaccination programme.
17 February 2014: Figures used to justify the cull were overstated. Defra has released updated figures showing the number of cattle herds infected by bovine tuberculosis had been declining rather than increasing in the year before the cull began. The Ecologist magazine reported on this too.
22 January 2014: We're disappointed Gloucestershire County Council has rejected a motion to write to the government requesting that any further plans to cull badgers in the county be abandoned. However, we are heartened that it has accepted the need for a full examination of the social and economic impacts of the cull.
21 January 2014: Natural England called for those wishing to apply for badger cull licences for 2014 onwards to begin to prepare information for the Expression of Interest process.
15 January 2014: In response to a questions from Adrian Sanders MP, the Home Office released estimated costs for policing the badger cull. Avon and Somerset Constabulary (for the first six weeks) was estimated at £500,000. Gloucestershire Police (for the first six week cull and the eight week extension) was estimated to be in the region of £1.7 million. Defra has agreed to cover any additional costs incurred by the relevant police forces.
15 January 2014: Gloucestershire County Council will discuss two motions related to the badger cull on 22 January.
7 January 2014: The badger cull featured in the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Departmental Annual Report 2012-13
18 December: 1,861 badgers were killed in the two pilot culls this autumn. Let's ensure the cull isn't rolled-out to other areas of England and this terrible policy is ended for good. For the sake of our badgers: Act now!
11 December: A parliamentary debate, the "Future of the badger cull in England", took place at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons. Many MPs called for the issue to be returned to the main chamber of the the House where it could be discussed in more detail before any decision to roll-out the killing to other areas of England is made. Watch the debate or read the transcript.
29 November: Natural England is to revoke the Gloucestershire cull licence as of tomorrow, Saturday 30 November. Good news, but we still need to work hard to ensure plans to roll-out the culling of badgers to other areas of England do not go-ahead.
27 November: We've updated our list of petitions that have been created calling on councils, in both High Risk Areas and other parts of England & Wales, to prohibit the culling of badgers and promote vaccination. Is your county listed?
26 November: Badger Cull: High Court Action filed today by Brian May’s Save Me Organisation.
5 November: The extended Somerset badger cull has failed to meet the 70 percent target. The Environment Minister confirmed today that 90 badgers were killed during the additional three week period, with a total of 940 animals killed in the Somerset cull. The extended Gloucestershire cull is due to continue until mid December.
23 October: The Guardian reports: Sir David Attenborough has condemned the UK government for "ignoring" scientific evidence after the controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire was more than doubled in length on Wednesday.
23 October: We're appalled by news that an eight week extension to the Gloucestershire badger cull has been granted by Natural England.
23 October: Police in cull zones confirm reports of illegal killing of badgers as questions remain over revised population estimates.
22 October: National Trust questions environment secretary Owen Paterson about the "scientific rigour and credibility" of the badger culls.
Read why these shameful culls must not be extended.
21 October: We've written to George Eustice MP, the new Farming Minister, and Natural England asking for more information about the revised badger population estimates [PDF] in the cull zones.
21 October: Natural England's science expert calls for immediate halt of badger cull.
19 October: The Badger Trust issues formal warning of legal action over plans to extend the culling period.
18 October: Read what our UK director Mark Jones has to say on why these shameful culls must not be extended.
18 October: We've written to DEFRA Minister Owen Paterson requesting more details regarding his statements to parliament [PDF] that some badgers were "desperately sick—in the final stages of disease…" when they were killed during the culls and that "carcases that have been shot would not give an accurate reading [for bovine tb] following post-mortem".
17 October: Badgers not "moving the goalposts" as experts question decline in population numbers in cull zones.
17 October: As details of the Gloucestershire badger cull reveal that it has fallen seriously short of its target, a statement from Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, quotes that the Chief Veterinary Officer has "advised that the period of culling this year should be extended". Natural England is considering a request for an extension to the Gloucestershire licence.
17 October: Cheshire West & Chester Council to vote on whether or not to ban any future badger cull on its land. HSI wrote to Council leaders in advance of the vote. [PDF]
16 October: Poll shows public deems pilot badger culls a failure and shows 58 percent say “no” to gassing.
16 October: Members of Parliament discuss badger vaccination at Westminster Hall, London.
11 October: Natural England confirms it has authorised a three-week extension of the Somerset cull and will process an application for a similar extension received from organisers of the Gloucestershire cull in due course.
9 October: An application to extend the Somerset pilot badger cull has been submitted to Natural England, Gloucestershire likely to follow, as DEFRA admits population estimates were overestimated in both killing zones.
8 October: The Guardian reports that an extension to the Somerset cull will be sought as DEFRA sources reveal that estimates of the number of badgers present in the cull area has been revised again.
24 September: HSI receives confirmation that DEFRA has lodged an appeal, just hours before the extended deadline, against the Information Commissioner's Office instruction that the department must release information about humaneness, which we have been requesting since October 2012, to us.
22 September: Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh's speech to the annual Labour conference includes a pledge on the badger cull, saying: "… a One Nation Labour government won’t be rolling out the disastrous badger cull."
19 September: Hampshire County Council members back a motion to ban badger culling on county-owned land, presented by Liberal Democrat Councillor Rupert Kyrle.
19 September: EDM299 "Pilot Badger Cull Parliamentary Assessment and Vote" has so far attracted the signatures of 133 cross-party Members of Parliament. Has your MP signed? Take action, contact your MP today.
17 September: The Green Party votes overwhelmingly in favour of a motion, at party conference, calling for an immediate end to the badger cull pilots.
16 September: The Guardian reports details of the first badger to be found shot near cull area after photos and a report by a vet, stating that it appeared the badger had not died "instantaneously", are released by animal rescue centre Secret World.
16 September: The Information Commissioner's Office has confirmed DEFRA has been given an extension in order to lodge an appeal against its instruction, of 6 August, to release information about humaneness to us. DEFRA has until 23 September to lodge that appeal.
13 September: Could the government take direct control of pilot badger cull?
9 September: Dr Brian May's Stop the Cull e-petition is closed. It attracted 304,150 signatures, the highest ever number for a government e-petition. Thank you for your support!
6 September: DEFRA Minister David Heath accused of misleading MP about badger cull suffering, misrepresented information about humane assessments.
5 September: Mark Jones speaks out about "chaos and cruelty in our countryside" as cull proceeds, on Huffington Post blog.
4 September: HSI's Mark Jones joins a Wounded Badger Patrol in Gloucestershire.
3 September: Second pilot badger cull commences in Gloucestershire.
28 August 2013: Plans are already underway to roll-out the cull, if the pilot schemes are deemed successful. 16 counties have been identified as bovine tuberculosis "High Risk Areas". Is your county one of them?
27 August 2013: Dr Jane Goodall made an 11th hour plea calling on the government to abandon the cull for the sake of compassion and common sense.
26 August 2013: First of the two pilot badger cull gets underway in Somerset. Shooting will last for up to six weeks and will kill 5,000 badgers across both areas.
23 August 2013: The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) issued a statement on the badger cull (full statement), saying "ZSL is concerned that the available scientific evidence does not support the UK government’s decision to allow badger culling by licensed farmers in England" and concluding: "…badger culling risks becoming a costly distraction from the important business of controlling cattle TB nationwide."