PEOPLE in Oxfordshire have been urged to comment on government plans to bring badger culling to the county.

Oxfordshire Badger Group called on locals to spread the word about the two-week consultation on expanding the 'unproven' extermination.

County cattle farmers, meanwhile, have said they need to be able to tackle the spread of bovine tuberculosis carried by the burrowing mammals.

Badger group events co-ordinator Emily Lawrence said: "Please read this consultation, look at it, share it with your family of friends and hopefully we can protect badgers.

"There is still no substantiated proof of how much badgers pass bovine TB onto cattle, and 90 per cent of transmission is cattle-to-cattle: you could cull every badger in England and still have TB.

"Badgers are already threatened by development across Oxfordshire, so we ask everyone to respond to this consultation."

The government launched the consultation on Monday after receiving an application for a badger culling licence from an un-named Oxfordshire landowner or landowners.

If granted, it would be the first time culling was allowed in the county since it was piloted in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2013.

In a readers' poll on the Oxford Mail website yesterday, an overwhelming 80 per cent said the cull should not be allowed in Oxfordshire.

One county cattle farmer who asked not to be named said many farmers may not be aware their animals had TB until an official test, and then find they could not sell live animals on, hurting their livelihood.

The National Farmers' Union said yesterday it was 'fully supportive' of the cull.

In a statement it said: "Bovine TB is a devastating disease for beef and dairy farmers in large parts of the country, with more than 30,000 cattle slaughtered because of the disease in England in the first 11 months of last year.

"Control of the disease in wildlife remains a key part of the Government’s TB eradication strategy and, following last year’s culls, the then Chief Vet said that proactive badger culling remains the best evidenced available option of achieving this.

"Previous trials, including the biggest scientific trial of its kind – the Randomised Badger Culling Trial – have shown that culling badgers can have a positive impact on controlling bTB in cattle in areas where the disease is rife."

The possible expansion of the cull has come as a shock to many, after it was reported just last week that the Government is to review the whole strategy.

George Bennett, who runs Sandy Lane Farm near Blackbird Leys with his wife Kate, said he knew dairy farmers hit by 'devastating' TB, but said he still had not seen conclusive evidence that killing badgers would help tackle the disease.

He said: "The spread of TB does not affect us because we don't have cattle, but I think the badger cull is unnecessary.

"Everything I have heard about badger culling has been inconclusive.

"The way we managed pests and diseases is having a balance ecosystem, and if you take any one species out of the ecosystem then something will get out of control."

In 2017, a total of 19,274 badgers were culled across eight counties.

See the consultation online at