British Veterinary Association statement on second year of badger cull pilots in England

18 December 2014

Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss has published the report and supporting data of the independently audited results of the second year of the badger cull pilots in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire alongside advice from the Defra Chief Veterinary Officer. She has also published a Biosecurity Action Plan and announced a future consultation on further cattle measures to control bovine TB.

Commenting, BVA President John Blackwell, said:

“We welcome today’s publication of the results of the monitoring of the second year of the pilot badger culls. The headline data continues to raise some concerns on humaneness and reveals a mixed a picture in terms of effectiveness, but we are unable to comment further on the results until we have had time to fully consider the data in consultation with our members.

“We appreciate the fact that Defra has not released this data alongside a decision on the continued delivery of culling in the pilot areas using controlled shooting or the further roll-out of the policy and we look forward to further consultation on this before Defra decides future policy.

“BVA’s position on bovine TB supports the use of targeted, humane badger culling in areas where there is a significant wildlife reservoir as part of the comprehensive approach to tackling the disease. But we have consistently made it clear that we can only support badger culling if the method used is humane, safe and effective and that is why we called for controlled shooting to be tested and critically evaluated against these criteria.

“Bovine TB is a devastating disease and we know that we need a package of measures to tackle the disease in both cattle and wildlife if we are to stop the advancing spread of TB northwards and eastwards. We therefore welcome the publication of the Biosecurity Action Plan and a commitment to consult on further cattle controls.”

BVA will hold a joint meeting of its Veterinary Policy Group and Ethics and Welfare Group to discuss the data in detail and make policy recommendations to BVA Council, on which all BVA members are represented via their elected regional representative.

BVA Media Office