Cheshire Wildlife Trust has joined with fellow trusts across England to criticise the government's decision to allow badger culls to go ahead for another year.

The Wildlife Trusts, which covers all the different organisations across the country, believe the government's strategy is flawed – putting badgers at risk in Cheshire – especially as their own review the bovine TB eradication strategy is still underway.

The Trusts have opposed badger culling for more than a decade and most recently have written to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to highlight the flaws of the badger cull and request that the cull be ended.

Ellie Brodie, senior policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts, believes the government have got it wrong.

She said: “It is unacceptable that the government has not waited for the results of their own review – which we understand is to be published imminently – before forging ahead with another year of ineffective and expensive badger culling.

"The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bTB transmission in cattle which is between cattle.

“The Wildlife Trusts have been involved in this debate for over ten years. In 2008 we successfully persuaded the Labour government not to go ahead with a badger cull.

In 2012 we helped stop the initial badger cull pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Simultaneously, we have led the way in demonstrating that badger vaccination would be a far more effective route, accompanied with strict biosecurity controls, movement controls and robust cattle testing regimes.

“We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen.

The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them – it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger."

Research has found that bTB bacteria can survive for months either on fields or in slurry. Strict biosecurity procedures are key to tackle this key route of the spread of bTB.

Defra should provide as much support as possible to farmers to make sure these procedures and rigorous tests are in place.

She added: "This approach would contribute considerably to reducing the spread of bTB between cattle and badgers as bTB can have a devastating impact on the lives of farmers.

"The Wildlife Trusts continue to work with farmers to find solutions that work for everyone.

Badger vaccination is cost-effective, and it works. It reduces the incidence, severity and long-term vulnerability of badger groups to the disease.

If government strategy must focus on badgers, this approach offers a far more effective, cheaper and low-risk way to reduce bTB in badger populations.

The government has promised to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.

Continuing and expanding the badger cull runs counter to this promise and risks pushing one of our protected native species to the verge of local extinction.

The Wildlife Trusts call on the government to:

n Halt the badger cull now.

n Invest in and promote a strategy for badger vaccination. This should be led and funded by the government, across England.

n Invest more time and resource in further research into farm biosecurity and movement controls. We need to know what works.

n Accelerate development of more effective tests for bTB in cattle and put serious investment into a bTB cattle vaccine. This is a cattle problem, not a wildlife problem.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust is calling on people to contact their MP – Antoinette Sandbach for Eddisbury and Owen Paterson for North Shropshire.

You can contact your MP at