Badger culling is to be extended to seven new areas in England this year as part of tackling bovine TB in cattle, it has been announced.

Natural England said the areas included zones within the counties of Hampshire, Berkshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and two parts of Shropshire – and between 5,365 and 7,273 badgers will be culled across these new areas.

It has also authorised licence holders to resume operations in 33 existing areas this year and will see between 33,045 and a maximum of 75,930 badgers killed.

The extension of the zones comes after the Government announced in May that no new licences would be issued next year.

Trials are also under way in Hertfordshire for a cattle vaccine and new skin test for bovine TB.

Essex Wildlife Trust has issued a statement on where it stands on badger culls. 

It said the trust 'is fully aware' that TB in cattle is a significant problem for farming in the UK and that urgent action is required to combat the disease.

In a statement it said: "Essex Wildlife Trust does not support a cull of badgers and will not allow culling on its land.


"Essex Wildlife Trust does support methods which reduce the risk of cattle contracting bovine TB (bTB) because the Trust recognises the devastating impact this disease can have upon livestock owners.

"Essex Wildlife Trust would be willing to pursue the deployment of BadgerBCG on its nature reserves subject to the criteria:

  • Evidence of badgers present on site; and,
  • Grassland on site or immediately adjacent where cattle are present
  • The correct licence from Natural England
  • Appropriate veterinary and technical support

"The Trust urges Defra to pursue the following as a matter of priority:

  • Support landowners to improve on-farm biosecurity and deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine;
  • Continue to develop an oral vaccine for badgers;
  • Complete the deployment of a licenced bTB vaccine for cattle; and,
  • Secure changes to the regulations to permit the commercial deployment of a bTB cattle vaccine and the entry of meat from vaccinated cattle into the human food chain.

"Essex Wildlife Trust believes that the scientific evidence shows that a badger cull is not effective in reducing bTB in cattle partly because it is neither practical nor acceptable to achieve a massive reduction in the number of badgers and partly because other forms of wildlife have been demonstrated to carry bTB."