Natural England - Bovine TB and badger control in England

Bovine TB and badger control in England

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Latest news

(3 April 2014) - Following the Defra announcement on badger control in 2014: further details about Expressions of Interest, new and existing licences now available.

(13 January 2014)  Potential applicants for badger control licences in 2014 onwards should now begin to prepare information for the Expression of Interest (EOI) process.

(29 November 2013) Pilot badger cull in west Gloucestershire to conclude noon Saturday 30 November 2013.

Previous news

The pilot areas

Badger control can only take place during the open season – from 1 June. Shooting of free-ranging badgers is not permitted between 1 February to 31 May inclusive. Trapping of badgers for culling is not permitted between 1 December to 31 May inclusive. 

Licences were originally issued  to the two pilot areas in Autumn 2012, but badger control operations were then postponed, at the request of the NFU, in order to allow farmers to continue their preparations and have the best possible chance of carrying out the cull effectively.

The strict criteria set out in the Government’s bTB policy guidanceexternal link specifies how control operations to prevent the spread of bTB can be carried out.

The two pilot areas were selected on the basis that they offer the best opportunity to test the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting.

Dorset has been chosen as a reserve pilot area. Natural England is processing this application; however badger control will only take place in the reserve area this year, if control operations in one of the original pilot areas cannot proceed.

No further licences will be issued until an Independent Panel of Experts has evaluated the pilots and taken a decision about whether the badger control policy should be rolled out more widely.

Where are the pilot areas?

The west Gloucestershire pilot area lies predominantly within the council districts of the Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury, and parts lie within the districts of Wychavon, Malvern Hills and the south east part of the county of Herefordshire. The area does not include the area of the public forest estate in the Statutory Forest of Dean.

The west Somerset pilot area predominantly lies within the council district of west Somerset and part lies within the district of Taunton Deane.

The Dorset reserve pilot area lies entirely within the county of Dorset.

Please note that for security reasons we will not publish maps of the pilot areas, nor will individual land holdings or participants be identified.

Opportunity to comment

Summary of responses to the opportunity to comment process

A public opportunity to comment on the pilot badger control licence applications in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset took place in 2012. An opportunity to comment on the Dorset reserve pilot area also took place in 2013. A summary of responsesexternal link is available.

Further information

badger species, frequently asked questions and vaccination

Contact us

Natural England’s bTB enquiry line advisers are also available to help answer any questions you may have about the licensing process.

Natural England’s bTB helpline:

  • Tel: 0300 060 0550 - lines are open during office hours
  • Post: Natural England, BM 6283, London, WC1N 3XX
  • Email: