Shocking figures just released by the government1 show that 1254 badgers were culled in Oxfordshire in 2021 - up from 1040 in the previous year, which was the 1st year of culling in the county.
Worryingly, the number of badgers killed by the cruel and inhumane ‘free shooting’ method has increased from 61% to 80% , meaning that many more animals are likely to have suffered a painful and lingering death.
The Government’s promise to phase out the cruel, costly and ineffective cull and support badger vaccination rings hollow as it continues to increase the kill targets and culling zones year on year.
Why are cull companies not being encouraged to vaccinate and release the 20-40% of badgers that are cage trapped before being shot?
Across the country 33,687 badgers were culled in 2021 bringing the total to 176,628 since 2013 at a cost of around £100 million. This is the largest slaughter of a protected species on record. Although 94% of bTB infections are from cattle to cattle, there has been a failure to focus on cattle measures.
A new scientific paper published in the Veterinary Record analysed Government bTB surveillance data and concludes that culling badgers has had no effect on reducing TB in cattle. The paper finds that any bTB reduction was due to cattle measures implemented before or during the cull period.
Oxfordshire Badger Group believe that the vaccination of badgers in the county is a more humane and cost effective alternative. The group has been working with farmers and landowners since 2018 to deliver a free vaccination programme. This year we will be covering a much larger area than before thanks to many more landowners and volunteers taking part.
We call on the Government to stop the cull. Badgers in Oxfordshire are already under threat due to the unprecedented level of housing developments. Culling an iconic, protected native mammal on such an intensive scale is not acceptable in one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.
OBG's commitment to vaccination
Oxfordshire Badger Group is committed to vaccinate Oxfordshire’s badgers and with public support we will continue to expand our programme. Please donate if you can via our crowd funder:
DEFRA 2021 reports published 31 Mar 22
The Badger Trust's response
"Most people oppose the cull, yet they don’t realise the cull is intensifying and getting worse in its nature, threatening one of the greatest mammals this country has. We should be protecting badgers, not attacking this protected native species.”
“And the sickening total will continue to rise. We estimate the number of badgers killed will exceed 230,000 by the end of 2023, with further years of culling already locked into current expansion plans and four-year licences still to run. The government’s culling policy is inhumane and unnecessary at best – at worst, it’s a smokescreen and ineffective strategy to appease farmers, while continuing to fail them.”
The Trust has issued an update to Badger Group's and has also published it's official response here. Like us, they are appalled at the record increase in badgers free shot (i.e. when the badgers are free running rather than the more humane caged and trapped), reached a record 87.7% - nearly 9 out of 10. These badgers have an increased risk of dying slowly and in great pain. Over 100,000 signed a petition to stop free shooting and that led to it being the subject of a Parliamentary debate just a week ago.