IT COSTS more than half a million pounds every year for police to enforce the badger cull in Somerset, writes Local
Democracy Reporter Daniel Mumby.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is responsible for enforcing the annual badger cull, as mandated by the
Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to slow the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Figures released by the police show it cost taxpayers more than £540,000 to enforce the cull in 2021 – and
that more than £5.6 million has been spent in total since the cull was introduced in 2013.
Campaigners have called for an end to the cull, describing it as poor value for money and ineffective at combating
the spread of the disease.
In 2021, £543,987 was spent on policing the badger cull in the Avon and Somerset area.
Since the cull began in 2013, the total figure spent in the force area on the badger cull is £5,611,780.27 – an average
of more than £600,000 per year (2013 to 2021 inclusive).
All the police’s costs associated with enforcing the cull are claimed back from Defra – meaning none of the
costs of the cull come out of the police’s share of the council tax precept at a local level.
The Somerset Against the Badger Cull campaign group had called for the cull to be abandoned, arguing there are
better uses of police resources and better ways to reduce the spread of the disease among cattle.
A spokesman said: “The badger cull is widely opposed because it is ineffective in reducing bovine TB in cattle
and it is cruel.
“Badgers are a native, legally protected species. Many people value badgers highly.
“We would like the government to concentrate on effective ways of tackling bovine TB – such as stricter
and improved testing for cattle and higher standards of on-farm biosecurity. Producing a cattle vaccine is also
“The disease is most commonly spread through cattle-
to-cattle transmission. As expert scientists have already
said, bovine TB incidence can be reduced by concentrating
solely on cattle measures.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary has declined to
comment on the figures, stating solely that “the badger
cull is a DEFRA initiative” and confirming all costs associated
with enforcing it are “fully reimbursed”.
In its most recent analysis of the effectiveness of badger
culling, published in September 2021, Defra officially concluded
it remained the most cost-effective option.
A spokesman said: “Currently no alternative option
offers better value for money in the short to medium term,
against a situation where the incidence of TB in cattle continued
to rise, along with the costs to both government and
farmers of dealing with it.”
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