South Somerset Supports end to badger cull

Last night South Somerset District Council passed a motion opposed to the badger cull. SSDC does not actually have any remit over badger culling. The actual decisions on the cull are taken by the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). However councillors felt it was important to make the voice of SSDC heard in the corridors of power.

It is true that SSDC does have some land holdings such as Ham Hill Country Park and Nine Springs in Yeovil. It has always refused to allow badger culling on these lands. Beyond this however it has limited influence.

Somerset and Gloucestershire have been involved in the trial culling of badgers since 2014. Although popular with farmers the cull has been done without any scientific rigour. It was always likely that no real conclusions could be drawn from a poorly conceived exercise. This stands in sharp contrast to the Randomised Badger Cull trials done more than a decade ago.

The fact was more or less recognised in 2018, in the Godfray Review. Almost unnoticed amidst the rising pandemic crisis, in March this year Secretary of State George Eustice MP acted. He stated that the government would pursue an exit strategy from the intensive culling of badgers. He declared it would be phased out by the mid to late 2020s.3 In place new policies would aim to strengthen cattle testing and movement controls, increasing badger vaccination programmes, and continuing to develop an effective bTB vaccine for cattle.

SSDC councillors lined up to support a motion proposed by Cllr Oliver Patrick. In it they expressed support for the region’s hard working farmers. They then offered their support for a policy that DEFRA has already decided. The council’s CEO will now write to DEFRA offering SSDC’s support. They will offer SSDC land to trial badger vaccination. And finally they will continue to refuse to allow any culling on SSDC land.

6 comments

  • Great news well done Cllr Patrick as there is no scientific evidence to support the cull, in fact there is evidence that it assists in spreading bTB. Perhaps other Councils will also see sense and follow suit.

  • Somerset Badger Group would be delighted to vaccinate the badgers on SSDC owned land. We have been collaborating with farmers, landowners and other organisations to vaccinate badgers since 2012.

  • What a waste of time, money and badgers the whole sorry episode has been! Tragic move government

  • Jackie I agree with your comments. However this is a positive step in the right direction.

  • Thank goodness common sense has prevailed at last. Hopefully these new policies will come to fruition and prevent the unnecessary slaughter of badgers not only across Somerset but nationwide. These alternative bovine measures cannot be implemented soon enough in my opinion.

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