The National Trust will not cooperate in a voluntary cull of badgers on its land in Wales.

The Welsh Assembly included a pilot cull of badgers within its strategy to tackle the disease. But the trust, which owns 50,000 hectares of land in Wales, ruled out any cooperation because it said it did not believe there was a scientific case for killing badgers to prevent bovine tuberculosis. It also ruled out cooperation with any cull in England should it be part of the government’s strategy to tackle TB.

The trust added that it would only take part if the assembly or the government backed the pilot programme with legal force.

Obligations

David Bullock, the trust’s head of nature conservation told The Guardian newspaper: “We have obligations both to badgers and the people who use our land. We are not persuaded it is the right thing to do.”

“If trials on the effectiveness of culls had shown they could reduce cattle TB by 80% – a real difference – “then, subject to the highest welfare standards, we could not have objected to a badger cull, but it has not gone that way,” Mr Bullock said.

Some National Trust tenants could choose to take part in culls, depending on the nature of their tenancy agreement, Mr Bullock said but the trust would enter into “negotiation and persuasion” with them.