NE announces final authorisation of badger control licences

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On 27 February 2013 Natural England (NE) confirmed that all criteria have been met to allow control of badgers to begin in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset, for the purpose of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

Each licence has a four-year term, authorising six-week control operations to be carried out annually between 1 June and 31 January, except for during the close season.

Close seasons:

  • Controlled shooting: 1 February – 31 May 
  • Cage-trapping and shooting: 1 December – 31 May 
  • Cage-trapping and vaccination: 1 December – 30 April 

Licensees are authorised to reduce badger populations in the two pilot areas by at least 70% and a maximum number of badgers has been specified to prevent the risk of local extinction. 


Government has selected Dorset as a reserve pilot area and Natural England will now work to process a licence application. Badger control will only be licensed in this area this year if control operations in west Gloucestershire or west Somerset cannot proceed.

To read the Guidance to Natural England click here

In response RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “Despite overwhelming scientific, public and parliamentary opposition the Government seems hell bent on pressing forward with their senseless plans to kill badgers.

“All the evidence shows that the answer to the problems of bovine TB in cattle does not lie in a cull that will be an ineffective, wasteful and potentially damaging to the welfare of both farm and wild animals.

“We care about cattle and badgers alike and have great sympathy for the farmers dealing with the effects of this disease – but killing badgers is not the answer.”

This announcement follows the abandonment of the planned cull last autumn. Click here to read.

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