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Stackyard News Apr 06

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More top scientists reject badger culling to control bovine TB

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.

photo courtesy of The Badger Trust


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 to implement.

"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."

link Tony Blair plays down public response to badger killing
link Badger Trust welcomes pre-movement testing, but more must be done
link Pre-movement TB testing to pile on agony for farmers and markets

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