Following the Judgement from the Judicial Review, which ruled that it was legal to cancel the 2019 Derbyshire Badger Cull, the government began a consultation on introducing ‘no cull buffer zones’ around vaccination schemes into how to carry out badger culling in zones with badger vaccination programmes.
Current Cull Guidance is out-of-date, it was last updated in May 2018. In February 2018, the then Secretary of State, Michael Gove, announced an independent review of the Strategy, to be chaired by Sir Charles Godfray, a population biologist and Fellow of the Royal Society. The recommendation in Godfray Review suggest a shift in the balance away from culling and towards non-lethal methods.
The resulting headlines across the media, supported by the Defra press office, talked of a seismic shift in policy and an imminent end to badger culling, a view now largely accepted by both politicians and the wider public.
The reality is very different, as key aspects of the TB Strategy Review have now been dropped and plans to cull badgers even longer term and across the whole country have been laid bare.
The Consultation was ostensibly aimed at reducing the risk of vaccinated badgers being killed by cull contractors. However, in practice the proposals will only serve to minimise new vaccination schemes and cripple or destroy existing schemes. Already, badger vaccination schemes in edge areas are seeing landowner drop out rates of up to 50% in expectation of a cull. We object very strongly to the consultation and consider it to be fatally flawed. Yet, we are forced into the position that without a response we may leave vaccination schemes without any protection whatsoever. This is unacceptable!
The buffer zones suggested would be wholly ineffective, prevent vaccination schemes from expanding and allow culling in areas where previously vaccination was part of a cordon sanitaire approach. Not only that, the vast majority of schemes are unlikely to qualify for even the smallest and most ineffective buffer and stand to have them removed again when so many badgers are culled that they cannot vaccinate enough to qualify.
A recent report published by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust which shows that research, produced by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and used by farmers to justify a cull of badgers in Derbyshire, was flawed and inaccurate.
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