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.

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