BVA calls for change to badger culling method and wider roll-out in England
17 April 2015
BVA has called for the four-year culls of
badgers in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire to be completed using the
‘tried and tested’ method of cage trapping and shooting only. In light of the
results from two years of culling in the two pilot areas, BVA has concluded
that it can no longer support the continued use of controlled shooting as part
of the badger control policy.
a full discussion at BVA Council, at which a wide range of views were
expressed, BVA concluded that the results from the first two years of culling
have not demonstrated conclusively that controlled shooting can be carried out
effectively and humanely based on the criteria that were set for the pilots.
remains supportive of the use of badger culling as a necessary part of the
comprehensive strategy for control and eradication of bovine TB. BVA is
therefore calling on the government to revert to the method of cage trapping
and shooting only, which can deliver a safe, humane and effective cull, as demonstrated
in the earlier Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT).
The RBCT established that culling
badgers can deliver a net benefit in terms of a reduction in the incidence of
bovine TB in cattle. BVA is therefore now calling for badger culling to be
rolled out using cage trapping and shooting only to other areas where badgers
contribute to the high incidence of TB in cattle.
Council heard views from BVA’s Veterinary Policy Group and Ethics and Welfare
Group, which have discussed data from the first two years of the pilot in
detail, as well as opinions from BVA’s expert specialist divisions, including
the British Cattle Veterinary Association and British Veterinary Zoological
Society, and from individual BVA members across the UK.
was widespread agreement amongst Council that the disproportionate focus on
badger culling in the public debate about bovine TB fails to acknowledge that
no single measure can effectively
tackle the disease. There must be a
comprehensive eradication strategy using all available measures, including
surveillance and control in cattle, biosecurity, badger culling and
vaccination, surveillance and control in other non-bovines (eg camelids), and
research and development (including into improved diagnostics, cattle vaccine,
oral badger vaccine, and alternative humane badger control methodologies).
BVA President John Blackwell, said:
“BVA’s support for badger culling
as part of the bovine TB eradication strategy has always been predicated on it
being delivered humanely, effectively and safely. BVA supported the pilots to
test the use of controlled shooting but data from the first two years of
culling has not demonstrated conclusively that controlled shooting can be
carried out effectively and humanely based on the criteria that were set.
“However, BVA remains convinced
that if we are to tackle this disease then we need to control the infection in
the wildlife population, and badger culling must form part of the comprehensive
strategy for tackling bovine TB. We are
therefore calling for the culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire to be
completed using the tried and tested method of cage trapping and shooting, and
for culling to be rolled out to other carefully selected areas using this
“The continuing spread of bovine
TB within cattle and wildlife has an unacceptable impact on animal health and
welfare, and has the potential to pose a risk to public health. In the public
debate on badger culling and bovine TB, we are in danger of losing sight of the many other important
control measures being applied. It is essential that the next government
commits to a comprehensive strategy that employs all available measures.”