NEW badger culling plans which could soon affect Oxfordshire will ‘devastate’ the species, divide communities and harm other wildlife, nature lovers have warned.

Oxfordshire Badger Group has now called on all of the county’s councils, university colleges and other landowners to refuse to let the slaughter happen on their land.

After the Oxford Mail revealed in March that an Oxfordshire landowner or landowners had applied for a licence to cull in the county for the first time, the Government is now running two new consultations – both of which end this Sunday – on plans to extend culling.

One consultation is on a proposal to to remove the limit of 10 new cull zones being licensed each year, and the other is on plans to introduce licensed culling in the Low Risk Area for bovine TB in England.

The original consultation on the Oxfordshire licence application closed on March 19 and the Government is now considering the request, but the badger group has tried to circumvent the official process by stoking local opposition.

In a letter sent to councils and colleges this week, group chairman Julia Hammett said: “After five years of badger culling, more than 35,000 badgers have been needlessly killed and an estimated £50m of taxpayers’ money spent, yet DEFRA are still unable to provide reliable evidence that culling badgers is having any impact on reducing TB in cattle.

“Oxfordshire Badger Group strongly object to the plans to bring the cull to our county: we believe it is cruel and ineffective.

“Vaccination of badgers together with other preventative measures such as improved farm biosecurity provide better and more effective controls.”

In Oxfordshire, the group warned, badgers are already threatened by increasing habitat destruction, such as the 885-home Barton Park estate and the extension to Seacourt Park and Ride on Botley Road.

What’s more, the badger group said that Oxfordshire was a relatively low-risk area for bovine tuberculosis, which badgers are blamed for spreading and which the cull aims to reduce.

In a recent study, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) submitted a number of badgers killed on the roads in Oxfordshire to the University of Surrey to be tested, and none were carrying the disease.

Ms Hammett concluded her letter: “Please join the Woodland Trust, the National Trust, BBOWT and others who have already made statements that they will not allow any badger culling on their land and do not support the cull.”

The National Farmers Union, which is fully supportive of the cull, has said ‘every available tool’ should be used to tackle the ‘terrible disease’.

An NFU spokesman 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.

“Following last year’s culls, the then Chief Vet said proactive badger culling remains the best evidenced available option of achieving this. “Previous trials have shown that culling badgers can have a positive impact on controlling bovine TB in cattle.”

See the latest consultation online at