WILDLIFE CHARITY WELCOMES REPORT URGING GOVERNMENT TO SCRAP BADGER CULL
Monday 26th March 2012
badger in a trap (c) GWT/Gordon McGlone
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust welcomes a report published by The Bow Group urging the government to reconsider their plans for a badger cull in England this autumn 2012. The report titled ‘Common Sense and Bovine TB – Why the Government should abandon badger culling trials in favour of vaccination’ presents evidence as to why they believe badger culling is not the answer.
Dr Gordon McGlone, Chief Executive at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said: “We welcome the recommendation that the government should assemble a group to strategically develop badger vaccination.
“The Trust is using badger vaccination on its own reserves and feels a well coordinated deployment of the badger vaccination will be effective within England rather than a piecemeal approach which seems to be emerging.”
The Trust is using badger vaccination on its own reserves and feels a well coordinated deployment of the badger vaccination will be effective
The Bow Group - a centre-right think tank founded in 1951 which contributes to government policy-making – has stated the following in their executive summary:
- The Government is choosing the wrong method for tackling bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in England. Recent, large badger culling trials (11,000 badgers) have demonstrated projected efficiency in reducing bTB in cattle of just 12-16% (depending on the model) over 9 years.
- Badger culling has been demonstrated to lead to perturbation - a social fracturing that actually helps to spread bTB outside the affected area.
- In contrast, trials of vaccinating a proportion of the wild badger population with
- BadgerBCG has shown to reduce the incidence of positive serological TB test results by almost 74%.
- Just 15% of badgers carry bTB and poor biosecurity likely plays a much bigger role in the spread of bTB. Serious lapses, whereby landowners have been re-tagging and transporting infected cattle, are of deep concern.
- Compensation payouts for bTB should be linked to fulfillment of biosecurity best practice.
- Simple, cost effective measures are available to physically separate badgers from cattle and can reduce the incidence of infection.
- The population of foxes is likely to increase in areas where badgers are culled, leading to additional problems for farmers. Foxes also impact adversely on a number of species, including hares, a UK BAP species in decline.
- Badger culling is likely to be more expensive than the Government would hope, when additional policing, the resulting spread of bTB and the delay to research of other, more effective methods of reducing the disease are taken into account.
- Badger culling is deeply unpopular, with The Bow Group’s own, independent market research confirming that 81% of people are opposed to the Government’s plans.
- The architect of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), Lord Krebs, is also opposed to further culls, as are many leading scientists, conservationists, wildlife experts, the media and celebrities.
- The Government should establish a working group on vaccination and invest in this method of reducing infection in the wild badger population.
The architect of the original Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT), Lord Krebs, told the Bow Group: “Defra has said it wishes its policy for controlling TB in cattle to be science-led. There is a substantial body of scientific evidence that indicates that culling badgers will not be an effective or cost-effective policy.”
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust became the first private organisation to vaccinate badgers against bovine TB on its own land in June 2011. The five year programme aims to contribute to finding a practical solution to a serious animal disease problem and to explore the practicalities of vaccination usage in the field.
View the published outcomes of the first year of the Trust’s badger vaccination programme and the full report published by The Bow Group