TRUST'S REACTION TO GOVERNMENT'S LATEST ANNOUNCEMENTS ON BOVINE TB AND BADGERS

Friday 21st July 2017

Badger (c) WildstockBadger (c) Wildstock

In the week that Parliament goes into summer recess, the Government has today made a number of important announcements on bovine TB and badgers.

“Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust welcomes the good news from Minister, George Eustice MP, that the official badger vaccination programmes will re-start next year with new supplies of BCG vaccine. This has been shown to be an effective way of reducing the risks of disease transmission and value for money compared to the cost of culling badgers. We strongly welcome this news and it means that we will be able to resume work on our reserves and with neighbouring landowners to vaccinate badgers ”  says Colin Studholme, the Trust's Director of Conservation.

We are shocked that Natural England will be offering those currently holding a badger control license the opportunity to apply to cull badgers for a further five years.

“ But we are shocked by the announcement that Natural England will be offering those currently holding a badger control license the opportunity to apply to cull badgers for a further five years. This flies in the face of the Government’s own scientific evidence and previous guidance which said that culling would only be ‘necessary’ over a period of four years. We believe it is a further admission that the badger cull policy has failed and it contradicts the strong weight of opinion expressed in an earlier consultation on the issue.”

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust remains strongly opposed to the badger cull because the scientific evidence shows that it will not work in controlling the problem of TB in cattle. We sympathise strongly with the plight and pain of farmers in affected areas - we have seen at first hand the devastation it can cause. But the proposal to extend it to new cull zones in the county and adjoining parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire is not warranted by the evidence and we believe this is the wrong approach. Instead, we believe that the Government must do much more to reduce cattle-to-cattle transmission, significantly improve testing for TB in cattle and improve biosecurity and on-farm management practices. “

 

“Overall, we believe that the Government has failed to make adequate progress to overcome the issues with approving the use of TB vaccine in cattle. Ultimately, a vaccine for use in cattle is the best and only solution to this disease.”

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.