Call for cattle vaccine to be top priority to tackle Bovine Tuberculosis, not badger culling
Following this week’s Government announcement that it is to extend badger culling to 11 new areas of England at low-risk from bovine TB, and to continue culling in 29 areas including Cumbria, Cumbria Wildlife Trust is calling on the Government to stop killing badgers. This will not eradicate Bovine TB in cattle.
The first cases of bovine TB in badgers in Cumbria were confirmed in August 2017. Officials from the Animal and Plant Health Authority believe the disease spread into the Low Risk Area (LRA) from cattle brought from Northern Ireland with the disease transmitting to wildlife. Bovine TB was first found in the area, known as the Shap Cluster or Hot Spot 21 (HS21), in November 2014.
Government figures of bovine TB (bTB) surveillance in badgers in Cumbria in 2018 showed that 602 badgers were culled in Cumbria last year and 40 out of 363 tested badgers (11.0%) were positive for bTB.
Stephen Trotter, Chief Executive Officer of Cumbria Wildlife Trust says: “We’ve opposed the cull since its beginning and will continue to do so. We do not allow culling on any of our nature reserves. We work closely with many farmers across Cumbria and recognise the difficulties they face. No one wants to see cattle herds being devastated by bovine tuberculosis (bTB), but killing badgers will not solve the problem. Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle: the primary route of infection is cattle-to-cattle contact. The Government’s badger cull is flying in the face of science. It should be putting more resources into speeding up the development of an effective cattle vaccine, amongst other measures.”
In the absence of cattle vaccination, The Wildlife Trusts believe that vaccination of badgers is a more humane and effective solution to helping stop the spread of bTB than culling.
The Wildlife Trusts call on the 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, and complete the development of and licence the use of oral baited vaccine in badgers.
- Develop better biosecurity, bTB testing and cattle movement controls
They are also urging people to write to their MPs asking them to help stop the cull.
More information about the badger cull is available on The Wildlife Trusts’ website https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-and-wild-places/saving-species/badgers