Badger-culling is a key part of Defra’s 25-year policy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle, with Herefordshire being one of seven new target zones in 2016.
Government policy is to reduce badger numbers in a given area by 70% in the first year and then maintain this population level with a further three years of culling.
But badgers have been scapegoated for the spread of bTB infection in UK cattle herds for decades, and this flies in the face of scientific evidence that the main route of transmission is from cow to cow.
Studies have highlighted the need for improved bio-security measures on farms. This includes regular testing, strict adherence to movement restrictions and quarantine for cows that have tested positive for the disease.
The problem is of course made worse by intensive modern farming methods.
Having spent winter 2015 sett-surveying, campaigners were able to target their efforts effectively once the cull started in August last year. And during long days and dark nights out in the fields of Herefordshire fighting a six-week cull it becomes easy to lose perspective. What impact if any is being made on cull activity? Are badger’s lives being saved?
The kill figures for the 2016 cull, released by Defra in late December, while devastating overall, contained some surprises. Five weeks in and cull contractors had been struggling in Herefordshire, forcing Natural England to massively reduce their targets.
Ultimately in Herefordshire, although a total of 624 badgers were killed, that was still 248 fewer than Natural England’s original minimum target.
Every life needlessly lost is a tragedy but every single one spared serves to remind us that direct action saves lives. Culls will now take place for a further three years.
If you would like to get involved please get in touch with No Herefordshire Cull by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07551 884357.
Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting also organise wounded badger patrols.
Ska-punk band, Citizen Fish, headline an anti-badger cull benefit gig on Saturday 25th February at the Booth Hall, Hereford. Doors open 7:30pm and tickets are £8 on the door.