The biggest wildlife genocide of our time is happening right now

It’s the start of September, which means that badgers are being mass-murdered as you read this.

If you’re scrolling through this article just as the sun has gone down, badgers will be coming out of their setts in the countryside near you right now. At the same time, government-sanctioned shooters will be lined up, ready to murder these beautiful creatures.

It’s likely that these shooters will have been lulling badgers into a false sense of security for weeks beforehand, luring them into fields by laying peanuts – a favourite badger snack. And just as the badgers get into the habit of foraging for peanuts in those same fields night after night, they will be gunned down.

A decade of murder

It’s been ten years since the government started culling our badgers, and around half of these beautiful mammals have now been killed. More than 210,000 badgers have needlessly died so far due to Defra and Natural England’s policies.

The reason for this murder? The government argues that badgers transmit bovine TB (bTB) to cows. But Protect the Wild argues that the real reason for the cull is because the government desperately needs a scapegoat to blame for rampant TB in the farming industry. The poor badger is the chosen target. It means nothing to the government that its own laws should protect badgers.

As Protect the Wild has previously reported, the government has said that it will end the badger cull as we know it by 2026. But it will replace intensive four-year culling with a plan to murder all badgers in specific areas of England. The policy of murdering 100% of badgers in one localised area is known as ‘epidemiological culling‘ (EC). This is different to the intensive cull that has been taking place over the past decade, where contractors in different ‘cull zones’ are licensed to murder 70% of badger populations, rather than 100%.



Ignoring the science

Rural affairs minister Richard Benyon said in a letter, and seen by The Independent:

“The badger cull has led to a significant reduction in the disease in cattle, but no one wants to continue the cull of a protected species indefinitely.”

Quite how Benyon thinks murdering badgers is leading to a massive reduction in bTB in cows is unfathomable. Because as studies have consistently shown, cow to cow transmission is the main cause of bTB.

One report, A bovine tuberculosis policy conundrum in 2023, was published in April 2023. It blew the government’s outdated ‘science’ out of the window, and proved that the disease is commonly spread:

  • by the trading of cows in livestock markets
  • by herds grazing on common land and mixing together
  • because farmers are lax on testing cows for bTB if they have bought them for ‘growing-on’ for slaughter.


And in May 2023, another study was published, this time by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Northern Ireland. Farmers Weekly reported on the evidence and said:

“Scientists found that in the TVR zone, cattle-to-cattle transmission was “by far the most common” form of disease spread observed, while badger-to-badger transmission was undetected.”


dead badgers at grafton pet crematorium
Murdered badgers photographed at Grafton pet crematorium

“Neither the problem nor the solution”

Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief, Nora Smith, has recently spoken out against the proposed badger cull in Northern Ireland. She said:

“Buried in the AFBI report is the statistic that cattle-to-badger transmission could be 800 times greater than badger-to-cattle, which was practically negligible. The badger is neither the problem nor the solution to this dreadful disease.

We also know from similar culls in England and the Republic of Ireland that they do not have the intended effect. There is no conclusive evidence to confirm that culling hundreds of thousands of badgers has helped reduce the bTB levels.”

Tell that to Richard Benyon, who, as we have seen above, is either deluded or is blatantly lying when he says that in England the mass-murder of badgers has led to a “significant reduction” in the disease in cows.

Smith went on to say:

“In Wales, the levels of TB are reducing at a similar rate to that in England and they have not culled a single badger.”

Badgers’ lives are more expendible than cows’

Neither the government, nor farmers, have acted quick enough to control the disease in England. In Wales, on the other hand, biosecurity in farms has become a focus, while Welsh authorities and farmers have recognised that monitoring and changing the way cows are moved around is vital.

Defra, meanwhile, has stated that it aims to have a usable cattle vaccination for England in the future, but of course there is currently no vaccination available.

Instead of telling the truth – that meat and dairy farming is the problem – the government would rather scapegoat the badger. After all, that’s much easier than changing the whole farming industry as we know it.

In a system dominated by profit, one species, the cow – which is a valuable commodity – is proven to carry and transmit bTB, yet doesn’t face mass-murder by the government. Yet another species – whose meat is of no capitalist value – is murdered by the hundreds of thousands. The bodies of those murdered aren’t even tested for bTB: the government consciously chooses not to carry out tests on the dead; it is likely worried that if it did, it would have to come clean that the vast majority of badgers were actually healthy, and died in vain.


Government ministers obviously think that if they say something convincingly enough, no matter how untrue, the public is likely to believe them. But one decade on, this Tory government is responsible for the largest-scale genocide of a single species that we have seen. It should be held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of lives already lost, and for the thousands more badgers set to be murdered.

As you finish reading this article, badgers near you are being gunned down today. It is one of the greatest assaults on our wildlife of our time, and we all need to step up and shout “enough is enough.”


There are local groups across the country patrolling land and protecting badger setts right now. We urge you to Google your local group, and either join them in protecting badgers, or donate to them.