Badger cull 'likely to come to Northamptonshire' by end of year

An expression on interest has been lodged to begin a four-year programme of 'free-shooting' badgers in the county.

By Alastair Ulke
Thursday, 25th February 2021, 6:42 pm
An application has been received by Natural England to begin a badger cull in Northamptonshire. Picture by Northamptonshire Badger Group.
An application has been received by Natural England to begin a badger cull in Northamptonshire. Picture by Northamptonshire Badger Group.

Northamptonshire 'is likely to begin' an intensive badger culling programme by the end of 2021 that could on for up to four years.

Natural England has received applications to license free-shooting of badgers in Northamptonshire.

In 2020, badger culling was extended to 40 areas in England in a Government bid to combat the farmyard disease Bovine Tuberculosis.

A consultation on the applications was closed last week - but this was not open to members of the public, and was for businesses or organisations to state how it would affect them.

Badger culls are intended to destroy a set number of animals, but what this number would be for Northamptonshire has not been announced. The cull would affect the south and west of Northamptonshire.

What is the badger cull?

Badger culling has been named in the House of Commons as "one of the most divisive policies" going. It began in earnest in 2013 but in 2020 was rolled out to 40 areas in total.

It is a licence granted to counties by Natural England to destroy a set number of badger by 'free shooting'. It has been argued whether this method is humane, but is in contrast to previous methods of first catching the animals in traps before shooting them.

The shootings are part of a Government plan to eradicate the disease Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in the UK by 2038, which is suggested to spread from badgers to cows.

The disease is deadly and infectious to cattle at a cost to farmers. It is possible for the disease to spread to humans through milk and farm products, but instances of this are rare.

Critics and conservation groups have also questioned the link between badger numbers and the disease's infection rate.

The current cull, which started in September 2020, aims to kill 60,000 badgers in the UK.

Northamptonshire Badger Group, a conservation group that has been operating for more than 30 years, has condemned the proposal.

They wrote in a statement: "Northamptonshire Badger Group is dismayed at this news and do not believe that culling is the answer to the bovine TB issue.

"Northamptonshire is an edge area, meaning it does not have high TB incidences.

"The cull news comes at a time when the group are currently collating the information they need to get committee

approval to start a badger vaccination project in the County.

"The group do not believe that landowners and farmers in the area, have been given enough details on vaccination as an option and have been swayed to culling as the only option, which it is not."

It comes as the environment secretary George Eustice claimed in January that badger cull licenses are to be stopped after 2022, and pivot to a bovine vaccination programme. Proposals could also cut licences short, but is not guaranteed.

Speaking in the House of Commons in January, George Eustice said: "The farming community has invested heavily in badger culling, which the evidence shows has played a critical role in helping to start turn the tide on this terrible disease.

"But we were clear that culling badgers indefinitely is not acceptable."

Editor's note: This article came from a public notice published in the Chronicle & Echo and Northamptonshire Telegraph. For more public notices, see our newspapers out on Thursdays.