What is it about?

Large amounts of government cattle herd testing data were examined over long periods concerning bovine TB (bTB) breakdowns in England's High Risk Area. Areas where badgers (Meles meles) were culled by shooting or left unculled were compared, and no difference was seen in the rate of disease observed. Annual herd testing, movement control and other cattle measures brought bTB disease under control prior to mass badger culling.

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Why is it important?

Badger culling is controversial as an untested and unproven approach to bovine TB control. It requires large scale killing of healthy wild animals to try to cull those infected from a disease originating from cattle herds in the first place. It holds animal welfare concerns as badgers may die slowly from gunshot wounds. It divides rural communities due to high uncertainty. Bovine TB costs the taxpayer £100 m in compensation per year and distracts from the need for better cattle testing using PCR-based tests, to support testing and cattle movement controls that are still inadequate.


It is really important to show how badger culling has been a costly distraction to disease management over the last ten years. Also, to inform stakeholders as to how the previous conflicting evidence on cull efficacy can be put into wider context by using all of the data, with extensive modelling to check and test it. Badger culling can now be ended on scientific, ethical and financial grounds and diverted to uses with real public-good benefit: to further protect cows and to recover sometimes heavily depleted badger populations and wildlife habitats with unmonitored ecological impact from their removal.

Thomas E.S. Langton
Herpetofauna Consultants International

To justify the licenced killing of many thousands of legally protected badgers, the Government should at the very least be able to demonstrate a substantial and predictable disease control benefit. Our analysis of the Government’s own data found no evidence to support the mass killing of badgers and confirms the conclusion of scientists who oversaw extensive government research conducted between 1998 and 2005 that ‘badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to the future control of cattle TB in Britain’ and that ‘…substantial reductions in cattle TB incidence could be achieved by improving cattle-based control measures’. There is no justification for killing any more badgers. It’s time to bring this unscientific, inhumane and unnecessary badger culling policy to an immediate and permanent end.

Mark Jones
Born Free Foundation

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Analysis of the impact of badger culling on bovine tuberculosis in cattle in the high‐risk area of England, 2009–2020, Veterinary Record, March 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/vetr.1384.
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