The Wildlife Trusts have expressed disappointment and regret in response to the Government’s decision to press ahead with a cull of badgers in pilot areas in England.
The Wildlife Trusts call on the Government to put biosecurity and vaccination at the centre of efforts to tackle this disease and avoid wasting more time and money on a badger cull.
Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“A badger cull is the wrong tool to address this serious and complex problem and a distraction from other measures to tackle bovine TB. An industry-led cull with open shooting in the countryside is untested and these pilots will not provide a scientific evaluation of the impact on bovine TB. The rationale for any cull of native species needs to be extremely clear and well proven. We do not believe this is the case with the proposed badger cull.”
The Wildlife Trusts believe that Defra should pursue the following as a matter of priority:
• Support landowners to improve on-farm biosecurity and the deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine;
• Continue to develop an oral vaccine for badgers;
• Complete development of a cattle vaccine and secure change to EU regulation to permit its commercial deployment.
Paul Wilkinson continues:
“The Government’s priority should be preventing transmission of the disease on-farm, through improved biosecurity, badger vaccination and making swift progress on a cattle vaccine.”
Earlier this year, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was the first non-governmental organisation to begin deployment of the injectable BadgerBCG vaccine on seven of its nature reserves.
The outcomes from this first year of a five-year vaccination programme are available in a published report at: www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovineTB