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19 September 2018, 10:14 | Updated: 19 September 2018, 10:16
Environmentalists are angry that badgers will be culled in part of Cumbria to combat the spread of bovine TB.
The Cumbria Wildlife Trust says it makes more sense to vaccinate the animals.
David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager says: “We really do understand the massive problems caused by outbreaks of TB in cattle - and I have real sympathy for the financial hardship and emotional impact that this awful disease has on farmers and their families in one part of the county. None of us want to see the slaughter of cattle or badgers and we all want to see an end to this serious disease. However, a cull of badgers is not the answer and risks making the situation worse.”
“The science shows that only 1 in 20 cases of bovine TB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers, the remainder arises from cattle to cattle transmission or other sources of infection“.
David adds: “There’s a serious risk that culling will actually make the situation worse. This may seem counter-intuitive but experience has shown that culling disrupts and unsettles the social structure of badger families. This disturbance causes them to move to new areas more frequently and over longer distances – which can result in increased bTB transmission by displaced individuals.”
“Our view is that Government needs to put its effort into fighting the disease in cattle through measures such as better detection of bTB in cattle, better cattle movement controls and on-farm biosecurity measures. The best and most cost-effective way of dealing with bTB in the badger population is by targeted vaccination. On top of this, the costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them.”
Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager for The Wildlife Trusts says: “It is unacceptable that the government has not waited for the results of their own review – which we understand is to be published imminently – before forging ahead with another year of ineffective and expensive badger culling. The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bTB transmission in cattle which is between cattle.
“We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen. The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them – it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger.”