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How we came about.

Last year a dog-walker we know came across a blocked badger sett adjacent to the site of a new housing development. That led to me getting involved with the developer and the local rural crime team to check the sett had been blocked lawfully under license from Natural England. Thankfully it had. The episode got me doing some research and made me realise there was no badger protection or monitoring group in Hampshire. Well, none that's known to or a member of the Badger Trust other than a long-established and effective group working with Forestry England in the New Forest.

It bothered me enough to contact the Badger Trust, liaise with the nearest group in Berkshire and, cutting a very long story short, deciding to actively do something about it. Thus, the North East Hampshire Badger Group has been born. Which is to say we have a constitution, bank account and Badger Trust "Associate Membership" applications pending, a Twitter profile and a private Facebook Page set-up through which to drum up interest, support, members and volunteers. There's a lot more to do (finalising a membership application process, refining this website, applying for a Badger Trust grant, PR and other admin) and an urgent need to locate and survey badger setts to help us understand the whereabouts and dynamics of Hampshire's badger population. Without that data, there's little we can achieve effectively in terms of sett protection, monitoring or working alongside local planning authorities to help them avoid breaking the law.

Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. So why is there any need for a Badger Group in Hampshire? The Protection of Badgers Act came into being because badgers have long been persecuted whether through sett blocking, badger baiting, general animal cruelty, pressure from property development, road traffic incidents and, right now, through culling under license from Natural England, the Government's own agency responsible for nature and the natural environment.

Since 2013, at least 176,928 badgers have been killed under license across England. That's over one third of the entire UK badger population. Of that number, 126,392 were shot and the remainder trapped, then shot. In 2021 Natural England added 7 new cull areas, including Hampshire, with applications available to cull companies to obtain 4-year licenses. The UK Government aims to cull between 70%-90% of all badgers in each cull area and up to 72% of ALL UK badgers are expected to have been culled by 2025. Over 99.5% of the badgers killed under license are shot without any animal welfare monitoring. Of the very few culled badgers tested, the majority have been found to be free of bTB.

Why is this happening? Because the Government believe that badgers shoulder the blame for the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle despite that assertion being discredited by scientists in independent, peer-reviewed studies and papers. Badgers are not to blame for bTB in cattle and the cull has made no difference to bTB infections in cattle. Over 94% of bTB transmission is from cow to cow and the unreliability of current testing methods leaves infected cattle undetected and able to spread the disease. The badger cull is unscientific, inhumane, and causes fear and pain to a protected species. The Government and the cattle-farming industry has been reluctant to use effective methods to counter and ultimately stop bTB through a focus on cattle and cattle-based measures such as better testing, herd managements controls, effective slurry management, additional biosecurity measures and cattle vaccination. It's easier, and cheaper, to blame and cull badgers.

So, as well as collating data on Hampshire's badgers, protecting them from cruelty. traffic injury and property development we'll be supporting the Badger Trust's priority campaign to #CanTheCull advocating, educating and, where necessary, agitating to stop the senseless slaughter and push the focus to cattle, where the problem starts and ends. The Government must stop targeting this protected species as a scapegoat for bTB and focus on farming measures and herd management to eradicate what is a respiratory disease in cattle.

The supplementary cull extensions announced by Natural England in May lists all the sites in Hampshire for which cull licenses can be applied. Sites include Ancells Meadow, Bartley Heath,the Basingstoke Canal, the Blackwater Valley, Bramshill, Fleet Pond, Hawley, Hook Common, Minley, Odiham and Warnborough. The cull area extends across the entire county and we will be legally agitating to disturb and disrupt any culling activity of which we become aware.

If you're interested in getting involved in the organisation of the Group then please get in touch. Initially, we're focusing on the North East Hampshire area (Hart DC, Rushmoor BC and the northern end of the East Hampshire DC territories) but looking to reach out to interested parties elsewhere in Hampshire and covering as much of the county as our resources allow.

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Are you doing anything Thursday evening?

Looking for something to do this Thursday evening rather than watching tv? Why not join our Founder, Nick Cole, in Alresford where he will be giving one of his talks on badgers. The event is being hos

1 Comment

Unknown member
Jul 23, 2022

Thank you for accepting me to the group. Looking forward to working with you all to end the cull of the one of indigenous animals we have in the UK. Lot of people in Fleet tell me they have badgers in their gardens. Lucky them!

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