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Badger cull phase-out is overturned by Government

Badgers will continue to be culled in targeted areas.

The Government has abandoned its plans to phase out the badger cull and will continue to license the control of populations across most of south-west and central England. 

Ministers had planned to introduce targeted culling — known as epidemiological culling or epi-culling — in which populations of badgers could be reduced to almost zero in some areas where cattle are deemed to be at substantial risk of contracting bovine TB (bTB). 

The cull was going to be phased out under plans announced by former Defra Secretary George Eustice in 2021. However, following campaigning from farming unions, the Government has announced it will continue to issue licences. 

It cites peer-reviewed evidence from the first 52 areas where culling was conducted, which shows a reduction in rates of bTB breakdowns in cattle by 56% on average after four years of culling. 

Peter Hambly, executive director of the Badger Trust, said: “The UK Government needs to protect our native wildlife while focusing on dealing with the scourge of bTB where it matters; with the cattle herd. This approach is best for cattle, farmers, taxpayers, wildlife and the wider community.” 

It is believed Conservative ministers wish to create a point of difference with the Labour Party prior to the general election in an attempt to retain rural seats.