The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced a controlled cull of badgers as a key component of the bovine tuberculosis (TB) eradication plans for England.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and its specialist cattle division the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) support the cull to control TB in cattle and wildlife.
“The BVA and BCVA have long argued for a targeted, humane badger cull to be used alongside stricter cattle controls,” said Dr. Harvey Locke, president of the BVA. “We believe that failure to tackle wildlife sources of TB infection has prolonged the presence and enhanced the spread of infection in all affected species populations.”
DEFRA announced a plan to license groups of farmers and landowners to carry out controlled culls of badgers during a nine-week time frame. The association will also remove some exemptions to pre-movement testing to reduce TB spread. DEFRA says the department plans to financially invest in the development of cattle and oral badger vaccines.
The BVA and BCVA said science supports the case for a badger cull, along with the need for stricter cattle control measures in areas where badgers are a contributor to the persistent presence of TB.
“We recognize that this is a very emotive and difficult decision but we believe that the science supports this policy and we support DEFRA’s commitment to tackling this devastating disease,” Dr. Locke said. “We are particularly pleased that this announcement has not been delayed until after the summer recess, which demonstrates the seriousness of the need to tackle TB.”