Badger culling more costly than vaccination, charity claims
6 January 2014
BADGER culling is significantly more expensive than vaccination, according to one of the animal welfare
organisations leading the opposition to England’s cull policy.
Wildlife charity Care for the Wild’s has released figures suggesting culling badgers in the two pilot areas of
England last year cost £7.3 million, which equates to £4,121 per badger culled.
Vaccinating badgers in the five-year Government funded Welsh badger vaccination programme was
calculated at £662 per animal in its first year.
The charity said its figures come from ‘official sources and Freedom of Information requests. Nonetheless, the
figures rely on a number of assumptions, while the NFU has argued that the cost of policing should not be
included as this is a reflects the ‘threats of illegal action, trespass and intimidation by anti-cull protestors’, not
of the policy itself.
The culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were both extended from initial six week pilots, which commenced
in the autumn. In both cases, particularly in Gloucestershire, fewer badgers were culled than had been
originally intended, pushing up the estimated costs per badger.
Care for the Wild said its figures show, over a total of 20 weeks culling in both areas:
- Police costs of £2.6m – this figure is based on figures released by the Home Office following a
- Parliamentary Question.
- Farmers’ costs of £1.49m – based on figures from Defra’s impact assessment published before the culls started, rather the money actually paid by farmers and the NFU in the two areas. It assumes a ratio of 60:40 between the caged trapping and the cheaper control method of controlled shooting.
- Government costs of £3.2m – this is also taken from the Defra cost benefit analysis. It includes an estimated £1.5m for monitoring the cull, £750,000 on licensing and £760,000 on surveying badger numbers prior to the culls.
Dominic Dyer, Care for the Wild’s Policy Advisor, said the figures showed the Government had ‘wasted
millions of pounds on a badger cull which has no scientific, animal welfare or economic justification’.
He claimed the figures undermined any justification for rolling culling out to new areas this year and claimed
that, over four years, the costs of culling would outweigh the financial benefits of reduced disease incidence
by more than seven times.
Defra and the NFU both refused to comment directly on the accuracy of the figures.
NFU director general Andy Robertson, said: “The cost of the badger culls should not be confused with the
costs of policing protestors. The culls were paid for by farmers and landowners and carried out by
independent companies in areas where TB is rife and is having a devastating impact on farming families and
“The work carried out by the cull companies was legal and licensed and was carried out safely and humanely.
Policing costs are a matter for government but any costs would be a reflection of the threats of illegal action,
trespass and intimidation by anti-cull protestors.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “The costs of the badger cull pilots are vastly outweighed by the impact that
bovine TB is having on our farming industry and taxpayers.
“Each bovine TB cattle outbreak costs an average £34,000, and if left unchecked this disease will cost the
taxpayer £1billion over the next 10 years.”
Defra Secretary Owen Paterson, who is set to speak publicly on the badger cull for the first time this year at
the Oxford Farming Conference on Tuesday, is due to make an announcement on whether culling will be
rolled out to up to 10 news areas in England this year by the end of February.
A report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee last year concluded that the injectable badger
vaccine, which has been available for use since March 2010, ‘does not confer complete protection and has no
discernible effect on animals already infected with TB’.
“Deployment of an injectable badger vaccine is one means by which we could create a healthier badger
population, but there are many unknowns to overcome if it is to be viable, and it will be expensive,” the
committee’s chair Anne McIntosh said.
The committee added that the development a potentially cheaper, more effective oral baited vaccine for
badgers had faced numerous problems that will take ‘several years to resolve’