Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Response to the Extension of Badger Culling in the County

Tuesday 23rd August 2016

Badger (c) Terry LongleyBadger (c) Terry Longley

Despite continued evidence that culling is unlikely to make a significant contribution to controlling Bovine TB (bTB) in cattle, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) is disappointed that the Government continues to prioritise culling badgers over other control measures.

We fully understand the frustration that farmers feel at the lack of progress in eradicating bTB from the county. However, the focus on culling badgers at the expense of other options is doing a disservice to those farmers who are desperate for an effective solution.

the focus on culling badgers at the expense of other options is doing a disservice to those farmers who are desperate for an effective solution.

We have pioneered vaccination of badgers in Gloucestershire. A GWT report last year concluded that badger vaccination is a viable and underused tool in the fight against the disease. It also said that results from the Government’s own five year badger vaccination project in Gloucestershire need to be published. Global shortages of the vaccine mean that badger vaccination has paused in the county this year, but GWT is keen to resume its badger vaccination programme in 2017.

Results from the Welsh vaccination trial, while not proving that vaccination has yet had an impact on reducing the incidence of the disease, has shown that bTB levels can be reduced without culling badgers. The decline in Wales is attributed to improved cattle movement testing.
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GWT Badger Vaccination Deployment Trial report


GWT’s report ‘Review of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Badger Vaccination Deployment Trial 2011-15’ published November 2015

Wildlife Trusts reasons for opposing the badger cull

The Wildlife Trusts oppose the cull for three main reasons:

(1) Cattle to cattle transmission has been shown to be a major route of infection and greater resources should be directed to focus action here. We are urging the Government to drop badger culling from its bTB strategy and prioritise a comprehensive package of cattle measures: better biosecurity, stricter movement controls, improved TB testing and development of a cattle vaccine along with a badger vaccination programme. 

(2) Culling will make no meaningful contribution to controlling bTB in cattle and could even make things worse. Culling can cause remaining badgers in established communities to disperse, potentially spreading the disease further – a well described phenomenon known as “perturbation”. 

(3) The free-shooting of badgers is inhumane.