Last year, NFA discovered horrifying rumours whilst taking part in Wounded Badger Patrols. Repeatedly and from various sources, we were told that in some areas, a badger ear was sufficing as “proof of a kill” of a badger, and that badger baiters were selling on the ears of abused badgers to top up cull numbers. The badgers, already in agony and absolutely terrified, were then forced into illegal badger baiting activities across the country.

Not only is this a huge animal welfare concern for badgers and dogs if true, it would also show just how badly run the government’s disastrous culling policy is. Environment Minister Liz Truss and DEFRA are adamant that despite bTB being a cattle disease, badgers are to blame for its spread. Why then, would DEFRA not make it mandatory for a dead badger to be provided as proof of kill, rather than just a single body part?

We know that the government has been determined to cull badgers in the face of all evidence from scientists, but NFA couldn’t believe that DEFRA could have such an irresponsible policy. We decided to check through Freedom of Information Requests (FOIs), and it took three attempts to get an answer. DEFRA said it was not their area of concern, and directed us to Natural England, who tried to avoid the questions completely on the first attempt, then provided us with what you see below. It implies that the government has no real idea what the licensing companies, or their hired gunmen are doing:

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This FOI leaves us unable to verify the rumours above, but stunningly leaves us unable to denounce them. It is no surprise that badger persecution is rising, as the government spends millions of pounds killing a protected British species, with such an ill-defined policy.

Last month we confirmed that only four of the 2386 culled badgers had been tested for bTB. This month, we brought you the public statement from the NFU that some testing would be happening. Something which our FOI request response from DEFRA neither confirmed nor denied. We are now going into year four of the culls. It was in year four of the RBCT when experts noted that bTB rates in badgers had doubled since the start of the trials. The Badger Action Network has asked the question we are all now asking: Is there a hidden agenda here?

We are now facing the very real possibilty of the cull expanding into nine counties. How long will this madness continue?