Badger culling proven to reduce bTB in cattle, new research shows

New peer-reviewed, scientific evidence published this week proves the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing the outbreaks of TB in cattle and demonstrates the success of the government’s 25-year eradication strategy, the NFU has said.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 5:08 pm

The research into the effectiveness of the badger cull in the original cull zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset showed a 66% reduction in new TB breakdowns in cattle in Gloucestershire and a 37% reduction in Somerset.

NFU vice president Stuart Roberts said: “This peer-reviewed research definitively shows the phenomenal impact culling badgers has on reducing TB levels in cattle. There should now be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this policy works.

“Controlling the disease in wildlife is a crucial element to tackling this devastating disease, alongside a range of measures such as enhanced biosecurity and strengthening cattle movement controls.

“On such a strong scientific basis, it is absolutely vital that the government’s strategy is continued in order to see reductions in all areas where TB is endemic.

“When this strategy began, opponents to it cited estimates that wildlife control would only deliver reductions of 16% in TB outbreaks in cattle, at best. It is clear from this peer-reviewed evidence that they were wrong.”

“Not only is there no evidence of increased incidence rates of TB in buffer areas, including no perturbation, the research reinforces the Chief Vet’s view that proactive wildlife control forms a central part of a strategy to tackle the disease.

“Last year, nearly 33,000 cattle were slaughtered in England because of this terrible disease and more than 3,600 farms that had previously been clear were affected by it. This study should signal the end of the debate that keeps giving a false equivalence between vaccination and culling as a strategy to reduce infection in cattle.”