Have your say on future of England badger cull ahead of intensive kill programme in Northamptonshire

Free-shooting of badgers is likely to begin in Northamptonshire by next year

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 4:27 pm
An application has been received by Natural England to begin a badger cull in Northamptonshire. Picture by Northamptonshire Badger Group.

A national consultation has launched on whether the Government should continue its programme of intensively culling badgers.

This newspaper reported in February how Northamptonshire is 'likely' to allow free-shooting of badgers before the end of the year.

It is part of a Government bid to curb the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis, a lethal and infectious disease among cattle that it is suggested is being spread by the protected species. At least 30,000 animals have been destroyed since it began in earnest in September 2020.

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

The proposed badger cull in Northamptonshire has been met with anger by the Wildlife Trust because it comes after 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.

The Trust's CEO in Northamptonshire Brian Eversham said: “The Government is consulting on an approach to TB control that doesn’t rely on culling badgers - to approve an application to extend culling to new counties at the same time defies belief. We hope the Government will see sense and refuse to allow a cull that could see thousands of badgers killed unnecessarily in Northamptonshire.”

The consultation would not have a bearing on the cull beginning in Northamptonshire.

However, it does ask for the public's say on if culling licences should continue being issued after 2022, and if any licences issued in the next two years should be cut short.

Culling licences issued by Natural England currently last four years and are a greenlight for farmers and hunters to shoot badgers on sight, with an aim to kill a set number in an area.

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire are asking for the public to respond to consultation and ask the Government to stop issuing licences immediately and fast track the start of a cattle vaccination programme.