Following the Judgement from the Derbyshire Judicial Review, which ruled that it was legal to cancel the 2019 Derbyshire Badger Cull, the government began a consultation 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Current Cull Guidance is out-of-date, it was last updated in May 2018.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.
If the cull was to go ahead there will be buffer zone between the vaccination and cull area. However, there may be “pockets of vaccinated areas within the cull areas”. The Government are aware that there would be adverse publicity and the loss of goodwill if a vaccinated badger was killed by mistake.
The current proposal can be viewed here.
The suggested ‘no cull’ buffer zones around vaccinated sites would not prevent vaccinated badgers from being killed. The largest suggest size is 2km, badgers can range an average of 2.6km per night from their setts, some up to 22.1km. The only way to prevent badgers, vaccinated or otherwise, from being killed is to stop the cull.
Removal of free shooting (shooting badgers at night using thermal imagining scopes) and carrying out a cull by cage trapping only would further reduce the risk of killing vaccinated badgers. Vaccinated badgers are marked; this would not be seen through thermal imaging by a shooter in the dark. Natural England monitoring of the cull was at its lowest last year, meaning there is no reason why a dead badger would be checked for vaccination markings.
Vaccinators and landowners, should NOT be required to give sett data to the cull company, as this may further endanger setts. The no-cull buffer zones should applied automatically to all vaccination sites.
Farms are not circular and have setts placed perfectly at their central points. However, no-buffer zone calculations assume a single badger sett in the very centre.
In a GPS-collaring study, individual badgers ranged 39% further from their setts on average each night in areas which had been subjected to culling.
Research into cattle vaccination must be sped up and cattle movements must be tightened. bTB testing rates have dropped due to the coronavirus pandemic, badgers should not have to pay for poor farm biosecurity measures. A recent study by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust showed that APHAs methodology for working out where bTB had come from in the county, was totally flawed.
The Deadline for the Consultation has now passed. However you can still sign this petition