In 2021, Defra held a Consultation on commencing more 4-year intensive badger cull licences in up to 10 new areas per year, starting in 2021 & 2022. This was in addition to further supplementary badger culling. The consultation ended in April 2021 and was quickly followed by the issue of changed guidance to Natural England in May. A record number of Supplementary Badger Cull licences (20) were issued on 14th May, to become active on 1st June 2021.
Despite the tangled words of the consultation documents, particular assertions stood out, including that “badger culling is working”. Defra refused to retract their misleading statement or to extend the consultation period. It is now clear that Defra defend their new policy by resting all but completely on the one analysis of a very small amount of data and only data to 2017, suggesting a much caveated, theoretical estimate of bovine TB (bTB) reduction benefit from killing badgers. This in turn has been repeated by the government and NFU, perpetuating government misinformation to stakeholders and to the public and without the massive uncertainty and doubt, and in an extremely unprofessional way.
Now a new peer-reviewed paper by three independent scientists; Tom Langton and two veterinarians Mark Jones and Iain McGill, has been published in the journal Veterinary Record (18 March 2022). It brings the long awaited analysis on bovine TB and badger culling. You can read more about this new research on our 18 March blog. A short video produced by Wiley summarising the research is available to view here.
Thanks to generous donations from Born Free and others, you can read an open access copy of the full paper here.
Ecological impacts challenge
The deeply disappointing news is that the legal Appeal, granted by the Court of Appeal in April and reopening the judgements in the High Court of Mr Justice Griffiths in 2021, has at the last minute been refused. It would have examined the claim of judicial error over potential ecological impacts of badger culling, and the NERC Act 2006, that the government has worked hard to deny. The case has been blocked, and the impugned decision has been protected by those who brought about the legal problem in the first place and then covered it up. For more on this, read our blog here.