CALLS to extend the controversial badger cull into Berkshire and Oxfordshire have been met with staunch opposition by conservationists.

The Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has opened a consultation on extending the badger cull after Natural England received applications from farmer-led groups to prevent the spread of tuberculosis among cattle in the area.

But the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) has staunchly opposed the plans, stating that if the applications are granted it will not allow any culls to take place on its land. It also says that none of the badgers it has collected in the last two years had TB.

Julia Lofthouse, the Mammal Project Officer with the BBOWT said: “We do not believe the shooting of badgers is ever an appropriate way of controlling bovine TB in cattle. 

“For the last two years we have collected badgers killed on the roads of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and sent them to the University of Surrey to be tested for bovine TB. 

“None of the dead badgers collected in either county were infected with TB. These findings show there is no justification for a cull.

“We vaccinate every badger we trap; even if the animal is already infected the vaccination will slow the progression of the disease.
Vaccination is a better solution than culling even where there is evidence of TB in badgers.”

The Binfield Badger Group said there was no clear evidence that the existing cull had reduced TB in cattle.

A spokesperson for the group said: "Binfield Badger Group, which protects badgers across Berkshire, is shocked and dismayed at the news of the badger cull coming to our county.

"After five years of costly, unscientific and inhumane culling across the south west of England, there is no clear evidence that the cull has had a direct result in reducing bTB in cattle, even in areas rife with bTB which Berkshire is not.

"Indeed, a recent survey of road-kill badgers in Berkshire by the University of Surrey found none infected with bTB.

"Culling badgers is wholly unacceptable, ineffective and risks further damage to our already fragile ecosystem."

The consultation closes on Monday, March 19. To add your feedback visit