Badger cull row reignited as ministers reveal 32,000 animals were killed in just TWO MONTHS to beat bovine TB

  • 32,601 badgers were killed in England between September 3 and November 1 
  • The slaughter occurred over 30 areas and is designed to eradicate bovine TB 
  • A DEFRA report has detailed how the government plans to continue with the cull 

The row over badger culling has been reignited today after it was revealed more than 32,000 badgers were killed in just two-months this year.

A total of 32,601 badgers were killed in 30 areas of England between September 3 and November 1 this year as part of the ongoing and controversial cull. 

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced the results of the slaughter as it continues to try and prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis. 

A report has been released which the farming minister, George Eustice, has said is helping to ‘achieve and maintain long-term reductions in the level of TB in cattle across the South West and Midlands’.

But the Badger Trust, which opposes the cull, called the slaughter  a ‘cruel, costly and ineffective policy’. 

The move has so far cost £50 million. 

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A total of 32,601 badgers were killed in 30 areas of England between September 3 and November 1 this year as part of the ongoing cull. DEFRA announced the results of the slaughter as it continues to try and prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (stock)

In the report, Natural England chief scientist Tim Hill said the operations indicate that ‘industry-led badger control continues to deliver the level of effectiveness required by the policy to be confident of achieving disease control benefits’.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said there had been a 50 per cent fall in the number of new confirmed cattle ‘breakdowns’ in the first areas to trial culls.

She said culling should continue in these areas for the duration of existing licences, lasting one or two years.

‘Effective’ culls should be carried out in 2019 and the following two years in 10 other areas for disease control benefits to be realised, she said.


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Control operations were carried out in areas of Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire and Wiltshire in 2018.

The latest figures come after an independent review of the TB control strategy found farmers must do more to tackle the spread of tuberculosis between cattle, which is a bigger part of the problem than badgers.

While it said that culling showed a ‘real but modest effect’ and was a judgment call for ministers, the review led by Sir Charles Godfray, said poor take up of biosecurity measures and trading in high risk livestock was hampering disease control.

The Government has announced new incentives to strengthen biosecurity on farms, with farmers in parts of the ‘edge area’ for TB who have managed to stay clear of the disease for at least six years able to revert to annual rather than six monthly testing.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said there had been a 50 per cent fall in the number of new confirmed cattle ‘breakdowns’ in the first areas to trial culls. She said culling should continue in these areas for the duration of existing licences, lasting one or two years (Stock)

And there will be a £25,000 investment to improve the TB Hub website which provides information on the disease.

Responding to the new figures, Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said the cull was a ‘cruel, costly and ineffective policy’.

‘This is the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory and it comes after a record breaking summer heatwave that has already led to a significant reduction in the badger population in England.

‘By the end of 2018, the Government will have spent over £50 million of public funds killing over 67,000 badgers which could push the species to the verge of local extinction in areas of England where it has lived since the Ice Age.’

This is despite the fact that the recent Sir Charles Godfray TB Review concluded that badger culling can only play a minor role in reducing Bovine TB in cattle and the key focus must be on reducing the spread of the disease within the cattle industry,’ he said. 

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