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A petition to ban the shooting of badgers immediately has received 106,108 signatures and is due for debate in the House of Commons on 21 March 2022:

Shooting of Badgers is licensed by Natural England as part of the DEFRA Badger cull. 24,000+ Badgers were shot in 2019.

Shooting is poorly monitored and Wild Justice believes it has never met the animal welfare standards recommended by a 2014 Independent Expert Panel, whose recommendations were accepted by DEFRA. This method of culling is inhumane and should be banned immediately.

The petition was presented in September 2020 and refers to Wild Justice,  a wildlife campaign group working to challenge wildlife legislation through the courts.

The UK Government is of the view badger culling should play a role in the control of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB). Control of bTB, including badger culling as a bTB policy measure, is devolved. In England, the Government has implemented a badger culling policy since 2011, firstly by conducting pilots and then as a part of the long-term Strategy for achieving Officially Bovine Tuberculosis Free status for England, which was published in April 2014.

Natural England is responsible for licencing culling of badgers to prevent TB in cattle.  Guidance from the Government to Natural England on licencing states that licences can only be issued for two culling methods:  cage trapping of badgers followed by shooting, or controlled shooting of free ranging badgers. Anyone authorised to cull badgers must demonstrate the appropriate level of competence.

Natural England must also monitor compliance with licence conditions and agreements in place for culling and vaccination. Natural England publishes annual reports on its compliance monitoring. The latest available is for 2020 Natural England also publishes a best practice guide for licence holders, last updated in April 2021.

Wild Justice presented a case for permission for a  judicial review of Natural England’s licensing of badger shooting, on the basis that Natural England was failing to properly monitor whether badger shooting was being carried out in an effective and humane manner. This was refused in 2020, after which Wild Justice decided to appeal the decision but this was also refused in June 2021

The Government response to the petition was published in October 2020. It provides some background on the badger culling policy in England. It also Government’s position on shooting as follows:

Natural England (NE) carries out compliance monitoring which includes observations of controlled shooting in the field, and the results are published each year on GOV.UK. All applications that are received are carefully assessed by NE to ensure that each cull company has suitable arrangements and plans in place to carry out an operation that is safe, effective and humane.

NE’s Chief Scientist advised that marksmen continued to show high levels of discipline and compliance with the Best Practice Guide in 2019. The level of accuracy of controlled shooting continued to compare favourably with the range of outcomes when other control activities, currently accepted by society, have been assessed.

The response also refers to the Government commissioned Godfray Review. It was commissioned to examine the 25 year plan for  eradicating TB in cattle by 2038. Following its publication in 2018 Government announced it would be phasing out culling by the late 2020’s. The intention is to replace it with badger and cattle TB vaccination.

This pack contains background information on badger culling, including statistics, Parliamentary Questions, press releases and blog posts, and news articles. 

Documents to download

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