BVA response to Defra statement on bovine TB strategy

16 December 2016

Responding to Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s statement on England’s bovine TB (bTB) eradication strategy, Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:

“BVA welcomes the important next steps announced today towards achieving Officially TB-Free (OTF) status, with Defra set to apply for OTF status for half the country next year. This is a marker that shows a comprehensive strategy of bovine TB eradication works and we are pleased to see that this strategy will now also include more coherent powers to tackle the disease in other species at risk such as pigs, sheep, goats, deer and camelids, bringing them more in line with cattle controls. We also welcome support for farmers to reduce the risk of infection and increase biosecurity for their herds, including the new cattle industry-led CHeCS TB cattle herd accreditation scheme, which helps farmers to take a proactive approach to controlling bTB. 

“The latest data provide detailed and complex information on how badger culling is being rolled out operationally on the ground. These data include humaneness, safety and effectiveness in terms of removal rates, and we will need to look at the detailed analysis of these figures. As Defra prepares to expand culling, it is important that we learn from the experiences to date.
“BVA continues to support a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to tackling bovine TB. Scientific evidence proves that badgers and cattle spread bTB to cattle and that the targeted culling of badgers does reduce the levels of infection in cattle herds.
“Badger culling in a targeted, effective and humane manner is necessary in carefully selected areas where badgers are regarded as a significant contributor to the presence of bTB in cattle. Following the pilot badger culls, we believe the results from the second year of culling did not demonstrate conclusively that controlled shooting could be carried out effectively and humanely based on the criteria set for the pilots. We therefore support the wider roll-out of badger culling using cage trapping and shooting only, but not the continued use of controlled shooting.”

BVA Media Office