Uncertainty surrounds whether one of Britain’s biggest landowners will grant permission for its tenant farmers to cull badgers.
The National Trust owns more than 245,000ha (605,000 acres) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some 60% is leased to farm tenants. But as Farmers Weekly went to press, the trust was unable to say whether it would let those tenants cull badgers.
The trust has previously ruled out participation in a voluntary cull on land that it manages directly in Wales, arguing that it would be counter productive and fail to make a major contribution to controlling bovine TB in cattle.
A statement on the trust’s website insists that the organisation is not against culling badgers. But based on the evidence from independent scientists, it does not believe it likely to be effective.
“We are concerned that any significant decline in cattle TB could only be achieved through such large scale and draconian measures to reduce badger numbers as to make the option impractical, unaffordable and publicly unacceptable.”
Badgers that survive the cull become more mobile and could spread the disease to other badgers and cattle, the trust believes. “Culls of badgers could have a detrimental impact on farmers including National Trust tenants,” says the website.