On Friday 26 October, police operations for the 2018 badger cull finally ceased in all zones, although a few had finished earlier. We now wait for the official numbers of badgers killed in 2018 to be released by the Government. In previous years, Defra and Natural England publish the figures just as MPs go on their Christmas break which, this year, will be 20 December.
Meantime, it’s important to stress that supplementary culling carries on for the second year in the original West Gloucestershire (Area 1) and West Somerset (Area 2) zones. Essentially, a repeal of the Protection of Badgers Act without a vote in Parliament, this means that the target number of badgers can be killed either by free shooting by licensed cull operatives from 1 June 2018 to 31 January 2019. Or by cage-trapping & shooting by licensed cull operatives between 1 June 2018 – 30 November 2018.
In 2017-18, Defra refused to publish the number of badgers killed in these zones, despite Freedom of Information requests, until July 2018 when Defra announced that 172 badgers had been killed in Gloucestershire and 91 badgers in Somerset. Compliance monitoring of these supplementary culls is very limited so it’s vital that more local people get to know and look after setts in their neighbourhood.
Badger protection groups in all zones are already out re-checking setts and starting new surveys of setts in anticipation of further expansion of the badger cull zones in 2019.
If you really care about badgers, get in touch with your local group and get started now.
On Thursday 13 September, the Government released the numbers of badgers that cull operatives will kill in England during 2018, together with the Licences and Letters of Authorisation.
The total number of badgers targeted in this year’s cull is over 42,000. This represents the largest attack on a native species in living memory – anywhere in the world. In the years to come, almost nowhere will be safe for badgers since the Government includes an annex B that lists the Sites of Special Scientific Interest for each county that may be culled either now or in the future. It starts with Avon and works through to Worcestershire.
So turn your anger into action and get in touch with your local group operating on the ground to protect badgers.
Check out our network of groups or contact us for more information.
It is expected that the Government, or the NFU, will announce the licensing of the badger culls very soon. We expect that there will be 31 zones this year, including ten new ones. The minimum and maximum targets for the numbers of badgers to be killed will be published too. All of us will be shocked to see the figures, which will add up to the unnecessary slaughter of tens of thousands of badgers.
Local groups have been working in many of the new zones throughout the year and all of them would like your support. Use our network links page to find details of local grass-roots organisations working to protect badgers all year round, or contact us for more information. Everyone can do something.
In addition, cull companies are recruiting more farms to extend into yet more areas during 2019 and the map on the Innocent Badger website may give you an idea of which areas could be included.
Defra is asking for your thoughts with two new consultations (a) issuing badger cull licences to more than 10 new areas per year and (b) extending the badger cull to low risk areas.
Based on science, conservation, and animal welfare issues, here are example responses submitted by a grass-roots badger organisation. You may refer to the information in these to help you to formulate your own responses, using your own words*.
Consultation response (bTB) example
Consultation response (LRAs) example
Since the whole of England is now threatened with badger culling, it’s important that as many people as possible respond. Previous evidence shows that if there’s a lot of opposition, the Government does listen.
*As always, you must use your own words as the Government uses an algorithm to detect cut & paste and remove such responses.
bTB Risk Map
Draft Revised Guidance on badger culling in Low Risk Areas (Defra)
Consultation on increasing number of Licenced Areas beyond 10 (Defra)
Consultation on extending culling into Low Risk Areas (Defra)
Defra has announced three public consultations on further expansion of the Government’s badger cull policy. Make no mistake, this signals an intention to cull in an unknown number of areas in eight more counties: Avon, Berkshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
This will be in addition to the ongoing culls in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Cheshire.
What can I do?
It is vital that as many people respond to the consultation before the closing time of 11.59pm on Monday 19th March. With such a tight deadline, we’ve put together some information to help you respond quickly:
Responding to the consultation – March 2018
Please use it to put your response in your own words otherwise it will not count. There is, of course, much more that could be said, so feel free to add your own thoughts and information.
There are two other consultations with deadlines in early April so we’ll post some notes on these later.
On the day of the Winter Solstice, the Government released the number of badgers killed in the 2017 badger cull, although neither of the original zones of West Somerset or West Gloucestershire are included – yet. For now, all the information supplied by the Government can be found here:
Summary of badger control monitoring during 2017
High level summary of the badger cull in 2017
Annex A1 – updating of minimum and maximum numbers during the cull
Changing the numbers half way through so that targets can be met
Annex A2: Data from the cull areas in 2017
Specific information from each cull zone
Annex B – Natural England compliance monitoring summary of the 2017 badger control licences
Compliance with licence conditions
Although the killing of nearly 20,000 badgers is far too many for such an immoral and unethical attack on a protected species, we know that the number would be far higher without so many passionate people going out into the fields day and night to protect badgers far and wide. Not only that but the cull companies and contractors know that they’re being monitored and are deterred from committing wildlife crimes. And finally, our presence consistently reminds the Government that their badger cull policy is unpopular and unwanted by the majority of the British public in the most visible way possible. So thank you to everyone who stands up for badgers – they have no voice but we can speak (or shout) on their behalf. Meantime, let’s hope 2018 sees some sanity prevail and Michael Gove suspend badger culling to undertake a thorough scientific investigation into the issues.
How long does the Government think it can ignore its electorate? BAN has received so many emails in response to press images of badgers shot dead and piled up in a Wiltshire cull zone that we wanted to share some snippets more widely. The public has always been against the badger cull and our inbox shows they are becoming increasingly angry – and rightly so.
“This government is totally bloodthirsty and only interested in killing… not how they are killed.” TOM
“Why is the badger cull continuing with no evidence of any benefit? Why is the cull being carried out in such an inhumane way?” LISA
“This can’t go on any more. How can this be about TB? If they were that worried, why weren’t the badgers’ bodies disposed of correctly? It’s only about money and people who enjoy killing our beautiful badgers just for the pleasure of it.” KAREN
“Could you tell me why badgers are being killed when TB has not fallen at all in the cull zones and why the badgers that are shot are not tested for TB so we know if any have the disease?” ANDREW
“Why is all the scientific evidence rejected?” KEITH
“How absolutely heart-wrenching (that) in this country our wonderful animals are treated so. The government should be ashamed, encouraging lack of empathy and letting people think that they can kill badgers willy nilly. What country has this become? What message is this all sending? Well! Here’s your answer. And don’t say we need badger culling because we damn well know we don’t.” DONNA
If you’re feeling angry or upset about the badger cull, please contact us now to see what you can do to help save the badgers.
Licences for badger culling in 11 new zones during 2017 have been issued for the following counties: Dorset, Devon, Cheshire, Somerset and Wiltshire. There will also be further culling in Cornwall, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire as well as the two original zones in West Somerset and Gloucestershire.
All the letters of authorisation can be found here, each of which set out the minimum and maximum targets.
Dorset’s zone 3 can be found here and West Somerset/Gloucestershire can be found here.
The total maximum and minimum targets for new, existing and supplementary licences is:
Maximum: 33841 badgers
Minimum: 21981 badgers
Additional detail of figures and methodology can be found here.
This is an unprecedented attack on a native species that will do nothing to remove the threat of bovine TB. Now is most definitely the time to get involved, so please contact Badger Action Network to find out how you can help and where your local active group is based.
In 2014, John Lowe fatally shot his partner and daughter in Surrey. In April 2016, the Independent Police Crime Commission ruled that Surrey Police had failed to consider and properly assess information relating to Lowe before returning his firearms.
Bearing in mind that the badger cull will be extended to new areas this year, it is worrying that the police watchdog also found the force’s firearms licensing team lacked training and was staffed by people failing to do their duties properly.
This is not an isolated incident. Those monitoring the cull have reported breaches of the Firearms Act to the Police on numerous occasions and it’s worth continuing to pursue this option. It is a serious breach of the Firearms Act to use guns and live ammunition to intimidate and threaten innocent parties in any way. Live firing on or across footpaths and public highways is also a breach. During transport, guns must be concealed in the vehicle and not on view.
In any incident involving a gun, notify the police by dialing 999 and immediately inform the operator that a firearm is compromising your personal safety.
Since the Badger Action Network launched last year, we have answered well over 300 emails from both individuals and grass roots organisations who are keen to find out how best they can help.
We found it interesting how many local landowners have contacted us to ask how they could stop unwanted cull operatives trespassing on their land. Our advice is to liaise closely with the police since armed trespass is a criminal offence. Another deterrent is to install hidden cameras.
With this year’s predicted rollout of the cull to new counties and the possibility of supplementary culling in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire, we’d urge any concerned landowner to contact us and we will be happy to help them further.
Right now, groups are getting out to check on setts and badger activity in previously culled zones as well the potential new zones. The good news is that even in the heart of cull zones, there are still signs of badger activity.
If you would like to join the effort to save our badgers, please find your local group here.