Bovine TB: focus on cattle, not badgers, say experts.

A review of the government’s 25 Year Bovine TB (bTB) Strategy, led by Professor Sir Charles Godfray, has been published today. The review concludes that the main route of infection is transmission between cattle rather than via badgers, and says it is “highly desirable” to vaccinate rather than cull badgers.

Professor Godfray’s states ‘it is wrong… to over-emphasize the role of wildlife’ and concludes that poor biosecurity on farms is “severely hampering” efforts to tackle bTB.

Several Wildlife Trusts, including Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, have badger vaccination programmes, and we have shown that this is a better alternative to culling. We strongly oppose the badger cull and will not permit it on our land. We believe it flies in the face of robust scientific evidence.  

Today, Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager of The Wildlife Trusts, responded to the report: “We believe that cattle and not badgers should be the focus of efforts to eradicate bTB. We support the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of bTB between cattle. This is the main route of infection.”

Only one in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of bTB in the badger population, and results in it spreading to other areas. 

The review highlights the potential for a large-scale badger vaccination programme as an alternative to culling. We believe the government should invest in a widespread vaccination programme. There should also be greater investment of time and resources in improving farm biosecurity, and the development of more effective tests for bTB in cattle should be accelerated. The Wildlife Trusts are ideally placed to work with the government and farmers to deliver badger vaccination on a wide-scale. 

Earlier this year government licences were issued, allowing the culling of more than 40,000 badgers. However, no licences were issued for our three counties.

Read Sir Charles Godfray’s report

More information about the badger cull is available on The Wildlife Trusts’ website.

You can read about our badger vaccination project here.  

We urge our members and supporters to contact their MPs asking them to help stop the cull. If you don’t know the name of your MP you can find it here: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/