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Vaccination not culling

Posted: Tuesday 12th September 2017 by ColinsBlog

Badger (c) Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills PhotographyBadger (c) Jon Hawkins, Surrey Hills Photography

Colin discusses the extension of the badger cull...

On 11th September the government announced a fresh wave of badger culling over a much wider area in England with the objective of eradicating bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. There will be new culls in parts of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Somerset.

Although there are no new cull zones in Worcestershire, the county is affected as existing cull areas in North Gloucestershire that extend into parts of Worcestershire, will be continued.

The Wildlife Trusts recognise the severe impacts that bTB can have on farmers whose cattle herds have been devastated by the disease but have always opposed the culls because the scientific evidence indicates that killing badgers will not eradicate the disease in cattle. Indeed, the evidence suggests that culling is more likely to actually lead to a spread of disease. It is also clear that whilst badgers can carry the disease they are not the primary cause of its spread in cattle; the primary route is cattle to cattle contact.

Badger vaccination (c) Tom MarshallNow, with this announcement, it is becoming apparent that the government’s cull programme is moving on from the initial, geographically-limited study of the feasibility of badger culling, to a much more sinister approach where local populations of badgers will be put at risk over increasingly large areas of the country. Frustratingly there are alternatives, including badger vaccination and the development of a vaccine for cattle, both of which are likely to be far more cost effective than badger culling.

We are calling on government to:

  • Stop the policy of badger culling.
  • Establish a full and independent inquiry into whether the culls to date have achieved their intended outcomes in reducing bTB in cattle.
  • Advance the development of a cattle vaccine as well as complete the development and licence the use of oral baited vaccine in badgers.
  • Develop better bio-security, bTB testing and cattle movement controls.

In common with all other Wildlife Trusts we shall not allow culling of badgers on our land and will encourage other landowners to do likewise. We shall continue to support the use of badger vaccination programmes where these can make a significant contribution.

More information about the badger cull is available on The Wildlife Trusts’ website www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers.

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