A new government scheme has been launched to kill badgers, a protected species, in areas of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) outbreaks, even where it is unlikely that badgers given the disease by infected cattle are re-infecting the cattle. Infected cattle moved by farmers from one farm to another are usually the reason for badgers and deer catching the disease.

To encourage the killing the government’s Natural England office is offering shooters, who can also be farmers, up to £50 per badger corpse.

The scheme has been described by the RSPCA as “inhumane, ineffective and costly” and by the Wildlife Trusts, which has banned the culling on its 2,300 nature reserves, as “scientifically unsound”. The Badger Trust also describes the cull as “flawed science” and is supporting a High Court challenge to the government in the form of a judicial review.

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