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Following the findings of the UK Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) the previous Government decided in 2008 not to introduce a badger cull as part of bovine TB control measures. The trial concluded that a reactive cull of badgers resulted in significant increases in bovine TB and a proactive cull, while controlling TB in the cull area, contributed to an increase in TB in surrounding areas, and would not be cost effective. Full details are available in a Library Note SNSC 3751on Badger Culling: Policy to 2008


After the election the Government indicated that a badger cull would be introduced as part of TB control measures. It announced a consultation in September 2010, which set out its proposals. These include introducing proactive culls over 150km2 areas where farmers would be licensed to control badgers by shooting. Farmers bear the costs of any culls. The Government would bear the costs of licensing and monitoring a cull. The consultation also included proposals on TB monitoring in cattle and further biosecurity measures. In December 2011 the Government announced that it intended to go forward with a badger cull trial. The trial would be carried out in two pilot areas. Results from the trial would be considered before rolling out culling more widely

The two trial areas, in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset, were announced in January 2012. Licences were granted by Natural England for the two areas in autumn 2012. Following concerns from the NFU on the late start of the cull and the potentially increased costs to farmers, a cull was postponed until 2013. The culls started on 27 August 2013. The initial six week cull in both areas was extended after failing to meet the 70% culling targets. Despite this the targets were missed with 65% of badgers culled in Somerset and fewer than 40% in Gloucestershire.

The Welsh Assembly replaced proposals for a cull in 2011 with a five year vaccination programme following a review of the science.

Library Note SNSC 6387 covers details of controlled shooting pilots in England. Library Note SNSC 6447 covers TB vaccination in Badgers and Cattle. Library Note SNSC 6081 covers Bovine TB Statistics.

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