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We write to you today concerning your upcoming decision of whether or not to issue new licences for the killing of badgers in 2020.
We note that your government responded to the Godfray review in March 2020 by stating that it would ‘phase out’ intensive culling of badgers and instead move to badger vaccination.
However, in spite of these promises, on 15th May 2020 the government published supplementary badger control licences for all seven cull zones which had completed four years of culling under their original licences in 2019 (areas 4–10 inclusive). Indications suggest that your government intends to initiate a huge expansion of killing by issuing as many as 11 new licences this Autumn. For 2020 this would bring the total number of cull zones to 54, covering an area of approximately 28,000 km2, with in excess of 65,000 badgers being targeted.
There are a number of factors which call the current strategy into question:
Badger killing is ineffective. Downs and others1 used mathematical modelling to claim that, up until September 2017, the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) situation in cattle in their studied areas of the Gloucestershire pilot cull zone had improved after four years of culling – and this was much trumpeted as a success story by ministers. However, analysis of subsequent data released by …
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