Badger culls are once again getting underway in many areas of the UK at the demand of the dairy industry in its flawed and strongly contested attempts to control bTB in cattle herds.
In 2017 the badger culls took place in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Wiltshire during which nearly 20,000 badgers were killed.
For Autumn 2018, license applications have sought to further expand badger culling in the above counties as well as to include areas in Avon, Berkshire, Derbyshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
Opposing the cull
Counties in the cull zones will have a local badger conservation group and there are numerous national and regional groups actively opposing the cull. A list of several of the regional groups can be found here.
Many counties will also have 'wounded badger patrol' groups or similar with their own internet/facebook pages. Activities volunteers can be involved with include sett surveying and monitoring as well as nightly footpath patrols in the cull zones.
There are also vaccination programmes in need of more volunteers (e.g. in Cheshire as well as Derbyshire among others).
There has been a lot of interest from landowners in having badgers on their land vaccinated against bTB but more volunteers are needed.
Factors such as poor farm biosecurity, cattle movements and inadequate bTB testing of cattle are widely considered to play a far greater role in the spread of bTB than the questionable transmission from badgers to cattle, but there is surely even less justification to target populations of vaccinated badgers.
A nightly war is being waged against England’s beleaguered badgers, and more volunteers are urgently needed to help to stop it.