National Trust members are being asked to vote in a motion over whether it should allow badgers to be culled on its land.

Trust members have put forward a motion calling on the trust to vaccinate badgers on their land to avoid them being subject to future culls.

National Trust members will vote on the motion this month and the result will be revealed at its annual meeting on 26 October.

In a recent statement on its website, the trust told its four million members that it would not be ruling out a badger cull on its land.

Patrick Begg, rural enterprise director at the National Trust, said: “We believe that a comprehensive package of measures is needed to reduce TB in cattle.

“This will require a greater rigour in tackling cattle/ to cattle, cattle to badger and badger to badger transmission of the disease than is the case at present.

“In England, we won’t stand in the way of proposed pilot badger culls providing they’re carried out in scientifically sound and humane ways.”

But he added: “However, even if these pilots prove to be successful in reducing TB in cattle, a question remains about whether it will be possible to repeat the criteria for success that underpin these pilots over much larger areas of bovine TB hotspots.

“This is why we are funding a pilot programme to test the practicality of vaccinating badgers.”

The National Trust’s farmed estate spans an estimated 200,000ha (500,000 acres) of farmland across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“In England, we won’t stand in the way of proposed pilot badger culls providing they’re carried out in scientifically sound and humane ways.”
Patrick Begg, National Trust rural enterprise director

If the pilot culls, which are being carried out in the South West are successful, and the government decides to press ahead with plans to roll out the cull more widely, access to National Trust land would be important.

According to reports in national newspapers, the six-week pilot cull in Gloucestershire is understood to have begun on Tuesday night (3 September).

In a statement, Gloucestershire Police said it had changed the status of its policing operation to “full capacity” from 8pm on Tuesday, suggesting the culls had started. The first pilot started in west Somerset last week, the NFU confirmed.

The pilots will test whether it is safe, effective and humane to cull badgers using a combination of controlled shooting and trapping and controlled shooting.

The National Trust has already embarked on a badger vaccination programme on its land – at is own expense – on the Killerton Estate in Devon.

“This will test the efficacy of more widespread use of vaccination in reducing the disease amongst badgers and thereby the risk to cattle,” it said.

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