BBOWT’s Chief Executive Estelle Bailey says a badger cull is cruel and misguided

Badger culling is set to begin in Oxfordshire which will result in the death of thousands of healthy badgers.

Everyone at the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is deeply saddened and concerned that badgers are to be culled in the area for the first time.

The Government allows the shooting of badgers in an attempt to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.

We sympathise with the plight of farmers and know the hardship that bovine TB causes, but culling badgers is not the answer to the bovine TB problem.

The Government has seen no definitive benefits from seven years of industry-led culling of badgers in England.

In high risk areas and under ideal conditions, at best culling of badgers can be expected to reduce TB infection rates in cattle by only 16 per cent. In counties such as Oxfordshire, where fewer badgers will be infected, the benefits to cattle are likely to be significantly lower even than this. We want to work with farmers to find solutions for everyone.

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BBOWT strongly opposes the badger cull and will not permit it on our land.

We believe it flies in the face of robust scientific evidence. Only one in 20 cases of TB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of TB in the badger population, and results in it spreading to other areas.

Oxford Mail:

BBOWT has been running a successful badger vaccination programme on its key nature reserves since 2014. The results have proven that there is a much more humane way to tackle bovine TB. Scientific trials have proven that vaccination is effective and reduces the risk of badgers testing positive to a progressed infection of TB by 76 per cent. Vaccinating is also at least 60 times cheaper per badger than culling.

The badger cull will kill thousands of healthy badgers, including those that may have already been vaccinated.

In November 2018, a review of the government’s 25 Year Bovine TB (bTB) Strategy concluded that the main route of infection is transmission between cattle rather than via badgers, and said it is “highly desirable” to vaccinate rather than cull badgers.

The review was led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray, a population biologist and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at the University of Oxford.

Prof Godfray concluded that poor biosecurity on farms was “severely hampering” efforts to tackle TB.

We believe that culling is offering farmers false hope. Bovine TB is a cattle disease and all the evidence shows the primary route of infection is via cow to cow transfer. Cattle to cattle transfer has been proven to be the primary route of infection in cattle, data suggests this is the cause of 94 per cent of cattle infections. In Wales in 2015 94 per cent of cattle herds were TB free.

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This was achieved through a programme of badger vaccination, improved cattle tests and biosecurity, with no badgers killed. We supported the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of TB between cattle as it is the main route of infection.

The review also highlighted the potential for a large-scale badger vaccination programme as an alternative to culling.

Oxford Mail:

In March this year, BBOWT welcomed the government announcement that culling of badgers across England will begin to be phased out in the next few years, with increased support for badger vaccinations. But last month a leaked report indicated that culling would be licenced for the first time in several counties including Oxfordshire. We are bitterly disappointed at this shameful reversal of the Government’s own recommendations.

Badgers are a valued species in the UK, protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which makes it illegal to kill, injure or take badgers or to interfere with a badger sett. 25 per cent of the European population is found in the UK, so we have an international responsibility to conserve them.

Alongside other wildlife trusts, BBOWT has worked tirelessly to lobby MPs, respond to government consultations, and garner support from the public which, until now, had been successful at preventing culling being introduced in Oxfordshire and neighbouring Berkshire.

We will continue to stand up for this iconic species.

Help fight the badger cull by writing to your MP. More advice at

The Oxfordshire Badger Group is at the forefront of the campaign. Join at