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Badger culling, as a bovine TB policy measure, is a devolved matter.

In Scotland, cattle herds are officially TB-free and no badger culling takes place. In Northern Ireland a 5 year research project is being conducted to test the effects of culling infected badgers and vaccinating non-infected badgers. In Wales, the Welsh Government has rejected the culling of badgers.

The approach adopted by some of the devolved administrations contrasts with the approach taken by the UK Government in England, where badger culling has been conducted in a growing number of areas since 2013.

The previous UK Government’s long-term Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England was published in April 2014. This set out the rationale for taking action to address the problem of bovine TB, and the range of measures intended to eradicate it by 2038.  The UK Government believed badger culling should play a role in the strategy. This rationale has been disputed by some experts.

The Conservative Government announced that it intended to enable badger control to take place over a wider number of areas in 2016. Changes were made to the license conditions which may have enabled a greater number of license applications to be successful.

The Government confirmed on 30 August 2016 that 7 new culling areas would be permitted in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, in addition to the existing areas in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset. Culling in these new areas will be carried out over 4 years between 1 June and 31 January each year. The actual start date for the cull in each area will be decided by the licensed companies.

The effectiveness of badger culling as a means of controlling TB in cattle remains contentious.

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