The government has announced it is to continue its badger cull, extending it to 10 new areas across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire.
Ten new areas have been approved in what Defra calls the “High Risk Area” for TB with a cull also taking place in a further “pocket of infection” in Cumbria. The new areas bring the total number of areas with a cull ongoing to 32 across 10 counties. Farming minister George Eustice has announced it is reducing cases of the disease.
Eustice said cases of bovine TB infection had reduced by half in areas where culls took place since 2013. The minister went on to add that the strategy was “delivering results” with the aim of making the “slow moving, insidious disease” extinct in the next 20 years.
NFU vice president, Stuart Roberts said over 33,000 cattle were slaughtered in England due to the disease and added that over 3,800 new farms had been hit. The Wildlife Trust estimates almost 41,000 badgers could be killed by the end of 2018 and said it feels the focus should be on vaccination.
Ellie Brodie, senior policy manager at Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen.”