Huge disappointment at limitations of the Bovine TB Strategy Review led by Sir Charles Godfray

Badger by Doug Merrick

The Wildlife Trust BCN's response to the Bovine TB Strategy

Whilst welcoming the review’s recommendations for a changed emphasis in the government’s strategy for eradicating bovine tuberculosis (bTB), The Wildlife Trusts are extremely concerned that it also recommends that badger culling should continue.

This flies in the face of robust scientific evidence and we urge the government to halt their flawed policy which leads to tens of thousands of badgers being killed every year. 

The Wildlife Trusts believe that cattle and not badgers should be the focus of efforts to eradicate bTB. We support the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of bTB between cattle. This is the main route of infection. Only 1 in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers, so culling badgers is not the answer. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of bTB in the badger population, and results in it spreading to other areas. We believe that more must be done by both the government and farmers to improve farm biosecurity and cattle movement controls
Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager
The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trust BCN is seriously concerned about the impact bovine TB has on the local economy and the hardship it causes to the farming community. However, the Trust believes that action to address bovine TB should be based on clear scientific evidence that can be effectively applied in practice. The review highlights the potential for a large-scale badger vaccination programme as an alternative to culling, which The Wildlife Trusts welcome.

The Wildlife Trusts have proven that badger vaccination can tackle bTB in badgers, and have demonstrated it’s do-able.

Twelve Wildlife Trusts across England and Wales conducted badger vaccination programmes between 2011-2015*. In this time, more than 1,500 badgers were vaccinated. The Wildlife Trusts are ideally placed to work with the government and farmers to deliver badger vaccination at a wide-scale.

Bovine tuberculosis is not currently found in the East of England. The Wildlife Trust BCN policy is not to allow badgers to be culled on any of its land and it is prepared to vaccinate badgers against this disease if a licence were to be granted.

All 46 Wildlife Trusts, including the Wildlife Trust BCN call on the government to:
• Halt the badger cull now
• Invest in and promote a strategy for badger vaccination. This should be led and funded by the government, across England.
• Invest more time and resource in supporting improved farm biosecurity and movement controls.
• 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.

More information about the badger cull is available on The Wildlife Trusts’ website.

We urge our members and supporters to contact their MPs asking them to help stop the cull. If you don’t know the name of your MP you can find it here: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/

 

*Hampshire & Isle of Wight; South & West Wales; Shropshire; Gloucestershire; Leicestershire & Rutland; Staffordshire; Berks, Bucks & Oxon; Warwickshire; Cheshire; Derbyshire; Dorset, and Nottinghamshire.