Bovine TB (bTB) costs the UK millions of pounds every year and The Wildlife Trusts recognise the hardship that it causes in the farming community. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer.
Government to press ahead with badger cull
Stop the cull! Sign the e-petition, launched by Dr Brian May CBE
Badger cull delay welcomed: time to throw weight behind alternatives
Wildlife charity outraged at badger cull decision
Judicial review on badger cull decided
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee have begun taking evidence on bTB vaccination so we are hoping there might be some more concrete details emerging from these hearings, especially in terms of the timescale for the cattle vaccine. Our evidence to the committee is here.
Gloucestershire WT have published a report of their second year of vaccination.
Badgers and bovine TB
The Wildlife Trusts are very conscious of the hardship that bovine TB (bTB) causes in the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control the disease. However, we believe that a badger cull is not the answer. Biosecurity and vaccination should be at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease rather than a badger cull.
Tackling the disease should therefore include the following measures:
- Biosecurity: All possible measures should be pursued to prevent disease transmission on-farm.
- Badger vaccination: Support landowners to use the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. We also urge Defra to continue development of an oral badger vaccine.
- Cattle vaccine: Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
Read our two briefings below (published 8 September 2011), setting out The Wildlife Trusts position in more detail.
How could a badger cull make the bovine TB problem worse?
Badgers typically live in social groups of four to seven animals with defined territorial boundaries. Culling disrupts the organisation of these social groups, causing surviving badgers to range more widely than normal and increasing the risks of disease transmission.
This is known as the 'perturbation effect'. The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB concluded in its final report (2007) that it was 'unable to conceive of a system of culling, other than the systematic elimination, or virtual elimination, of badgers over very extensive areas, that would avoid the serious adverse consequences of perturbation'.
Download our leaflet explaining the perturbation effect and the problems with using badger culling as a technique to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
What are the Wildlife Trusts doing?
Our involvement with this issue over a long period of time has led us to the conclusion that a sustained programme of vaccination, alongside improved biosecurity measures, would be the best means of tackling bTB. Read our briefing on how vaccination can help tackle bTB here.
The Wildlife Trusts are making the case for vaccination to the Government and we will continue to press them to reject the badger cull.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first non-governmental organisation to begin deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine. Read a report on their work, and the results of the summer vaccination programme here.
Visit The Wildlife Trusts website to watch a short film, produced by The Badger Trust, which includes The Wildlife Trusts’ President Simon King OBE and our President Emeritus Sir David Attenborough articulating their views.
What can I do?
Email your MP to ask them to call for the cull to be stopped
MPs voted against the cull on 25 October but the vote was not binding on the Government. Email your local MP to ask them to continue to put pressure on the Government to scrap their cull plans and prioritise badger vaccination. We have produced this template letter to give you some ideas, but it is much better if you can personalise it with your own thoughts.
Sign the government epetition
The petition has now passed 170,000 signatures. But the more signatures it gets, the stronger the message it sends to the Government, so please keep signing! http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257
Email your MEP (find their details) to ask them to press for the EU ban on a cattle vaccine to be lifted
A cattle vaccine is the long term solution to the bTB problem, but EU rules currently prevent it from being tested and used in this country. Find out why here.
Support Wildlife Trusts’ work
The key to convincing the Government to reject the culling of badgers is to show that vaccination is a viable way to control bovine TB. Join or donate to Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and keep up-to-date with the latest developments.
Visit The Wildlife Trusts website to find out more information about specific Wildlife Trusts around the UK that are carrying out vaccination programmes.