Derbyshire's badgers are safe for now

More than 40,000 badgers could be shot in the next few weeks.
More than 40,000 badgers could be shot in the next few weeks.

Derbyshire has not been included in the latest round of badger culls.

On Friday, the Government announced badgers would be killed in a number of new areas in England - including Staffordshire and Gloucestershire - to battle the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.

But Derbyshire - which was proposed as an area for a badger cull - did not feature on the list.

The Derbyshire Against the Cull group said it was 'brilliant' news for the county's badgers but expressed sadness for those in areas where culls have been approved.

More than 40,000 badgers could be shot in the next few weeks in what has been described as a 'bloodbath'.

'Vaccination remains the only answer'

According to research by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, bovine tuberculosis is not transmitted by direct contact between cattle and badgers but through contaminated pasture and dung.

The group says culling badgers is unjustified and costly and that vaccination remains the only answer.

So far, almost 500 badgers across Derbyshire have been vaccinated by volunteers working for the trust.

Tim Birch, the trust's head of living landscapes north, said: "All the hard work is paying off.

"Here in Derbyshire we are proving that a volunteer-led vaccination programme can be successfully carried out.

"We know that by vaccinating badgers they receive significant immunity against bovine tuberculosis which is good news for badgers as well as cattle.

"We have over 100 volunteers helping us deliver our vaccination programme with many more wanting to join and help us which is fantastic.

"It is over six times cheaper to vaccinate a badger than shoot it.

"We want to see our model of volunteer-led vaccination, supported by the Government, rolled out across the country instead of shooting badgers."

'Invest in medicine, not marksmen'

Ellie Brodie, senior policy manager at the trust, added: "We're calling on the Government to invest in medicine, not marksmen.

"The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them - it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger.

"The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bovine tuberculosis transmission in cattle which is between cattle."

She added: "The trust has been involved in this debate for over 10 years.

"In 2008 we successfully persuaded the Labour Government not to go ahead with a badger cull.

"In 2012 we helped stop the initial badger cull pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

"Simultaneously, we have led the way in demonstrating that badger vaccination would be a far more effective route, accompanied with strict biosecurity controls, movement controls and robust cattle testing regimes."

'Cull strategy is delivering results'

Badger culls are now taking place in 32 areas across 10 counties.

Farming minister George Eustice said new statistics showed the number of cases of bovine tuberculosis in first two areas where culls took place, from 2013, had halved.

He claimed the cull strategy was 'delivering results' and aimed to eradicate the 'slow moving, insidious disease' within 20 years.

National Farmers' Union vice president Stuart Roberts said more than 33,000 cattle were slaughtered in England in 2017 because of the disease with more than 3,800 new farms hit.