Natural England refuses to stop licensing the badger cull

Badger Crowd can today reveal a letter from Natural England, stating that despite the sickening killing of over 230,000 badgers since 2013, the Natural England Board intends to continue with the failed and ineffective badger culls across England over the next two years. This despite the change to a Labour Government. In its years in opposition, Labour pledged to end the badger culls. But instead, around 100 adult and young badgers on average will be shot every day between now and January 2025 under the direction of the NE Board who control the plans.

Steve Reed, new Environment Secretary for Labour has inherited the disastrous badger culling legacy

This was revealed in a letter repeating much of the material provided in a freedom of information release in May showing  how Defra want to keep culling to appease the livestock industry and because they think badger culling ‘works’. This is despite the complete  lack of supporting evidence, and with strong evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the new government called the badger culling policy ‘ineffective’ in its manifesto.

The old government position relies on the lies of Defra over the ridiculous, unprofessional, and discredited speculation that badger culling  has been shown to bring about a 56% reduction in bovine TB breakdowns (see ‘TB Testing and Transmission’ letter in Vet Record on Friday).

This is almost as ludicrous as the claim in 2013 that helped to start badger culling in the first place, i.e. that half of cattle-to-cattle breakdowns originate from badger infections – one of the great mysteriously uncontested travesties of modern veterinary epidemiology. It is based on flawed opinion and flawed analysis, promoted by government scientists and contractors to support government policy.  The result has been to support the vested interests that have dominated for two decades. But there was a clear-out at the political level on Thursday night in the 2024 General election.

While dozens of pro-blood sport MPs have lost their positions, entrenched civil servants are no doubt striving to bolster positions they have defended against public interest as a result of tribal behaviour (see here and here), by using the fear-factor that has characterised bovine TB policy.

Notably, Natural England speculate in their letter on how long it might take Defra to gear up for badger vaccination – another cattle disease reduction folly  – and talk about a supposed gap between hypothetical benefit effects that have not been shown to exist. Tainted science, based on poor advice.

These plans to continue culling are now under legal scrutiny. Badger Crowd calls on the new government to stand up and be counted on its promises, and not duped by the range of bad advice, information and opinions floating around from those with a conflict of interest and confused stakeholders. It’s time for the badger culls to stop