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Wales shows that there is no link between culling badgers and fall in TB cases, study concludes

19 Mar 2022 2 minute read
Badger picture by Pixabay

A fall in TB cases in Wales after badger culling was abandoned shows that there is no link between the practice and a fall in TB cases, a study has concluded.

The peer-reviewed research published in Veterinary Record shows that the disease fell in Wales where there was no cull as much as it did in places in England where there was one.

In 20019 the Welsh Government which was a Plaid Cymru-Labour coalition announces a “targeted cull” in Pembrokeshire of badgers to combat tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.

However, after the 2011 election Labour, then governing alone, decided not to continue culling badgers.

Despite that decision, according to the study TB levels were reduced in Wales at the same rate in England, where culling continued.

Since 2013 badgers in a designated high-risk area in west and south-west England have been shot en masse to control bovine TB – with the aim of reducing badger numbers by 70 per cent.

“During the same period as this study (2009–2020), Wales achieved similar reductions in herd bTB incidence as England, through the introduction of improved bTB testing and other cattle measures, and without widespread badger culling,” the study says.

“This suggests that bTB in cattle can indeed be controlled through cattle measures alone, as was predicted by the Independent Scientific Group in 2007.”


Following the publishing of the study, one of the authors Dr Mark W. Jones said there was longer “justification for killing any more badgers”.

“It’s time to bring this unscientific, inhumane and unnecessary badger culling policy to an immediate and permanent end,” he said.

‘To justify the licenced killing of many thousands of legally protected badgers, the Government should at the very least be able to demonstrate a substantial and predictable disease control benefit.”

A spokesperson for England’s environmental agency, Defra, has however criticised the study, pointing out that the authors have campaigned against badger culling.

“This paper has been produced to fit a clear campaign agenda and manipulates data in a way that makes it impossible to see the actual effects of badger culling on reducing TB rates,” they said.

“It is disappointing to see it published in a scientific journal.”

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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
2 years ago

Killing badgers does not work – inoculation does!

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
2 years ago

Well, well! DEFRA does not like the outcome of a proper scientific peer reviewed examination of their badger culling policy which finds it to be a waste of time and money. All they can resort to is criticising the authors for their views based, one suspects, on the earlier studies that showed culling to be unsuccessful. Oh for the days when we have a Government and State Offices that adopt evidence based policies. Little chance of that under the Tories.

Gwilym P
Gwilym P
2 years ago

I will not judge the findings of this report as I have not read it and it’s methodology, but the key sentence here is ‘lower herd cases of bTB’. That is true, herd cases of TB have been reduced in Wales, but it has happened for the simple reason that there are less herds out there, and the herds that remain are larger. If we look at the number of individual animals infected it is a different story. In the year 2000 there were around 1300 individual cases of bTB in Wales, by the 2021 that had increased to 10200… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
2 years ago
Reply to  Gwilym P

Interesting to hear that data. Perhaps it is time there were studies looking into herd hygene (if that is the right term) to see the impact of how herds are managed on the transmission of the disease. We have seen from the Covid Pandemic that changes in behaviour can affect the rate of transmission, so I presume it must be true for bTB. From where I stand it would be good to follow any well researched policy that results in less culling of both badgers and cattle.

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