Presentation on theme: "Badger Bother To cull or not to cull?. Why cull badgers? Badgers are blamed for spreading the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease to dairy cows... by some."— Presentation transcript:
Badger Bother To cull or not to cull?
Why cull badgers? Badgers are blamed for spreading the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease to dairy cows... by some people
What is bovine tuberculosis (bTB)?
Why is bTB a problem? The disease is fatal to cows The milk from infected cows can’t be sold Cows with the disease have to be killed because people can catch the disease if they drink the milk
How is bTB spread? Cows can catch it from other cows as well as from wildlife such as badgers Badgers can catch it from other badgers as well as from cows
Distribution of badgers and TB in the UK West Somerset West Gloucestershire Badgers Cases of cattle TB 2006 – 2010 Badger cull areas Distribution of badgers and bovine TB in the UK
bTB history 1960 All cattle in the UK tested & reactors removed Culling using gassing 1975 - 1981 Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) 1998 - 2007 1987 Relaxation of cattle testing, slaughter and movement controls Tuberculin testing suspended due to Foot & Mouth disease (FMD) fuelling a dramatic rise in bovine TB 2001 - 2002 2013 Pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire
Pilot cull supported by: DEFRA (government department for farming and rural affairs) NFU (National Farmers’ Union) To run over four years Selected areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset Free-running badgers to be shot at night by farmers using rifles 70% of badger population to be killed Anticipated 16% fall in TB after 4 years To go nationwide if ‘successful’
Pilot cull opposed by: Most leading scientists (including Professor Krebs who organised the biggest scientific study into the issue) Most wildlife societies and animal protection groups Most MPs (voted 147 to 28 against in Oct 2012) They say: Shooting badgers is cruel It won’t work It will cost too much Protesters at Badger Camp in Gloucestershire
Shooting a fleeing badger humanely is not easy... at night it’s even more difficult
The Krebs Trial Randomised badger culling trial Key scientific study into whether culling badgers reduces bovine TB Carried out between 1998 and 2007 - culling for 5 years, and follow-up studies for 4 years 30 areas of the country selected, each 100 square km in size 10 culled proactively, 10 reactively (in response to outbreaks), 10 not culled Badgers culled through being caught in cages and then shot Incidence of bovine TB measured on farms inside and outside study areas Reactive culling suspended early after significant rise in infection More than 11,000 badgers killed
Key conclusions ‘Badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control’ [We] ‘recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than culling’ Shooting badgers upsets their family groups, causing surviving animals to move out of the area, spreading TB further afield.
1)Vaccinate badgers against bTB What’s the alternative?
2) Improve testing of cattle and biosecurity
3) Improve the living conditions and health of cows so they are less likely to become ill
Arguments for the cull Something has to be done Badgers are to blame for spreading TB on to cattle Culling badgers works Culling is the most cost effective method way Badgers need to be controlled 28,000 cattle were slaughtered due to bTB in England in 2012 a 7% increase on 2011 At £662 per animal vaccinating badgers costs too much compared to shooting The Republic of Ireland has been culling badgers since 2004 and the number of cows with TB has fallen dramatically
Arguments against the cull Badgers are being used as a scapegoat by the dairy industry Culling badgers doesn’t work The cull method is inhumane Cure not kill – culling is the wrong method Scientific evidence shows that culling badgers is counter productive Infected cattle passing the disease onto other cattle is the main cause of the disease spreading to new areas Vaccinating badgers is the more effective and humane method of controlling bTB Shooting free-running badgers in the dark is cruel and will cause a great deal of animal suffering