When badgers were finally protected under law in 1992 the Government was responding to the biggest ever mailbag on any issue in the country at the time.

But English badgers are again under threat by the Coalition’s latest plan to allow the killing of thousands of badgers in the name of controlling TB in cattle.

This is despite the fact that previous governments have already spent £50m on a controlled cull that concluded that “licensing farmers to cull badgers will risk increasing and spreading TB in cattle”.

Farmers will get licenses to shoot free running or caged badgers in TB hotspots at their own expense but, as well creating welfare issues, this could lead to an increase in the prevalence of TB in periphery areas outside the cull zone.

The principal factors that perpetuate BTB need to be addressed: inaccurate testing for TB and moving cattle with undiagonised TB.

The Oxfordshire Badger Group has been working with local farmers. We, like badger groups around the country, believe that badger vaccination and better cattle controls and testing are the only way forward. We also believe that EU regulations should be altered so cattle can be vaccinated against TB.

Please help us to persuade the Government not to license the killing of badgers by responding to the Government Badger Consultation tbbc@defra.gsi.gov.uk, deadline December 8.

A cull is not supported by scientific evidence, will not deal with the real problems and cannot be allowed to happen.

Julia Hammett, Chair, Oxfordshire Badger Group, Hurst Rise Road, Oxford