The Badger Trust welcomed today's press statement from the Royal
Society, confirming that there is no scientific evidence to
justify killing badgers to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
Professor David Read, Vice President of the Royal Society, said:
"The case for badger culling is not clear cut. The introduction
of culling could result in an increase or a decrease of bTB. Which
of these will predominate is likely to depend upon the details
of the culling regime adopted.
“There is some evidence to suggest that culling would need
to occur over at least 300km2 to result in a net decrease in badger
to cattle TB transmission rates. Culling badgers over such a large
area would require serious consideration of the impact on the conservation
status of badgers.”
The Society suggests that there are other viable methods to reduce
bTB transmission. The introduction of ‘biosecurity’ measures
for example, aimed at reducing badger and cattle contact and cattle
to cattle contact, is one option.
Trevor Lawson, spokesman for the Badger Trust, commented: "When
the badger culling trial was initiated in 1997, politicians from
all parties promised that bovine TB strategy would be based on
the outcomes of sound scientific research. The science is now as
sound as we are likely to get.
"There is universal agreement in the scientific community
that badger culling will not bring bovine TB under control unless
badgers are virtually exterminated. The public is supportive of
farmers, but not at any price - and eradication on that scale is
not publicly acceptable. Nor is it practical or cost-effective
"In contrast, there is clear scientific evidence that cattle-based
TB controls can have a huge effect on reducing bovine TB. In Northern
Ireland, the disease has been reduced by 40% in just one year,
simply through better TB testing. That is the intelligent, sound
and cost-effective approach to TB control. The big question now
is whether politicians from all political parties will stick to
their promises and work together to implement it."
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