Badger Bother
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Badger Bother. To cull or not to cull?. Why cull badgers?. Badgers are blamed for spreading the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease to dairy cows. . . . by some people. B ovine tuberculosis ( bTB ). What is bovine tuberculosis (bTB)?. Infectious fatal disease.

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Badger Bother

To cull or not to cull?

Why cull badgers?

Badgers are blamed for spreading the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease to dairy cows

. . . by some people

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB)

What is bovine tuberculosis (bTB)?

  • Infectious fatal disease

  • Caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Bovis

  • Affects mammals, including cows, badgers, rats, foxes, deer and people

Why is bTB a problem?

  • The milk from infected cows can’t be sold

  • Cows with the disease have to be killed because people can catch the disease if they drink the milk

How is bTB spread?

Cows can catch it from other cows as well as from wildlife such as badgers

Badgers can catch it from other badgers as well as from cows

Distribution of badgers and bovine TB in the UK


Cases of cattle TB 2006 – 2010

Badger cull areas

Distribution of badgers and TB in the UK

West Gloucestershire

West Somerset

bTB history

Tuberculin testing suspended due to Foot & Mouth disease (FMD) 

fuelling a dramatic rise in bovine TB

2001 - 2002

2013 Pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire

Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT)

1998 - 2007

1960 All cattle in the UK tested & reactors removed

1987 Relaxation of cattle testing, slaughter and movement controls

Culling using gassing

1975 - 1981

  • Pilot cull supported by:

  • DEFRA (government department

  • for farming and rural affairs)

  • NFU (National Farmers’ Union)

  • To run over four years

  • Selected areas in Gloucestershire

  • and Somerset

  • Free-running badgers to be shot

  • at night by farmers using rifles

  • 70% of badger population to be killed

  • Anticipated 16% fall in TB after 4 years

  • To go nationwide if ‘successful’

  • Pilot cull opposed by:

  • Most leading scientists

  • (including Professor Krebs who organised

  • the biggest scientific study into the issue)

  • Most wildlife societies

  • and animal protection groups

  • Most MPs (voted 147 to 28 against in Oct 2012)

  • They say:

  • Shooting badgers is cruel

  • It won’t work

  • It will cost too much

Protesters at Badger Camp in Gloucestershire

Shooting a fleeing badger

humanely is not easy

. . . at night it’s even more difficult

. . . at night it’s even more difficult

  • The Krebs Trial

  • Randomised badger culling trial

  • Key scientific study into whether culling badgers reduces bovine TB

  • Carried out between 1998 and 2007 - culling for 5 years, and follow-up studies for 4 years

  • 30 areas of the country selected, each 100 square km in size

  • 10 culled proactively, 10 reactively (in response to outbreaks), 10 not culled

  • Badgers culled through being caught in cages and then shot

  • Incidence of bovine TB measured on farms inside and outside study areas

  • Reactive culling suspended early after significant rise in infection

  • More than 11,000 badgers killed

Key conclusions

‘Badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control’

[We] ‘recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than culling’

Shooting badgers upsets their family groups, causing surviving animals to move out of the area, spreading TB further afield.

What’s the alternative?

  • Vaccinate badgers against bTB

2) Improve testing of cattle and biosecurity

3) Improve the living conditions and health of cows so they are less likely to become ill

Arguments for the cull

28,000 cattle were slaughtered due to bTB in England in 2012 a 7% increase on 2011

Something has to be done

Badgers need to be controlled

Badgers are to blame for spreading TB on to cattle

The Republic of Ireland has been culling badgers since 2004 and the number of cows with TB has fallen dramatically

Culling badgers works

At £662 per animal vaccinating badgers costs too much compared to shooting

Culling is the most cost effective method way

Arguments against the cull

Badgers are being used as a scapegoat by the dairy industry

Infected cattle passing the disease onto other cattle is the main cause of the disease spreading to new areas

Culling badgers doesn’t work

Scientific evidence shows that culling badgers is counter productive

The cull method is inhumane

Shooting free-running badgers in the dark is cruel and will cause a great deal of animal suffering

Cure not kill – culling is the wrong method

Vaccinating badgers is the more effective and humane method of controlling bTB

Animal Aid: