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Medicine not marksmen

The Wildlife Trusts have expressed huge disappointment at limitations of the Bovine TB Strategy Review led by Sir Charles Godfray.

Whilst welcoming the review’s recommendations for a changed emphasis in the government’s strategy for eradicating bovine tuberculosis (bTB), The Wildlife Trusts are extremely concerned that it also recommends that badger culling should continue. This flies in the face of robust scientific evidence and we urge the government to halt their flawed policy which leads to tens of thousands of badgers being killed every year. 

Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager of The Wildlife Trusts says: “The Wildlife Trusts believe that cattle and not badgers should be the focus of efforts to eradicate bTB. We support the review’s recommendation that the focus of the strategy should be shifted to addressing the transmission of bTB between cattle. This is the main route of infection. Only one in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers, so culling badgers is not the answer. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that culling increases the prevalence of bTB in the badger population, and results in it spreading to other areas. We believe that more must be done by both the government and farmers to improve farm biosecurity and cattle movement controls.”

“Badger vaccination should be used strategically, with more resources invested to roll out a widespread vaccination programme. Vaccination has the potential to reduce bTB infection prevalence in the badger population and hence bTB risks to cattle, without the harmful effects associated with culling such as increased prevalence of TB in badgers plus spreading the disease. The review highlights the potential for a large-scale badger vaccination programme as an alternative to culling which The Wildlife Trusts welcomes. The government should do more to support rolling vaccination to more areas of the country.”

The Wildlife Trusts have proved that badger vaccination can tackle bTB in badgers, and individual Wildlife Trusts have demonstrated it is do-able.

Twelve Wildlife Trusts, including Leicestershire and Rutland (LRWT), conducted badger vaccination programmes between 2011 and 2015.

LRWT Conservation Officer John Bristow said: “Our efforts were cut short due to a global shortage of the vaccine. However, in late 2017, LRWT entered a new partnership with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust (NWT) to be included as part of their Badger Edge Vaccination scheme in the Vale of Belvoir. This meant that one of our reserves adjacent to the NWT project area would receive a further two years of vaccination work.”

The Wildlife Trusts are ideally placed to work with the government and farmers to deliver badger vaccination at a wide-scale.

The Wildlife Trusts call on the government to:

You can find more information on The Wildlife Trusts’ website here.

The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to write to their MPs asking them to help stop the cull. Find MPs here

 

Photograph: Badger cubs (c. Elliot Neep)

 

 

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