The badger cull
The purpose of the badger cull that has occurred in parts of England since 2013 is to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. The disease has caused the death of many thousands of livestock and the government is pursuing the cull because it believes that the disease is spread by badgers. However, we and many independent scientists and other animal welfare organizations believe that cull is an unnecessary waste of badgers ‘ lives, as science has shown that the cull does not make a significant contribution to the problem of TB control in the UK. We agree that action is needed to combat bovine TB, which is devastating for cattle and for farmers, but the evidence shows that cattle to cattle are the main source of transmission for bovine TB. The main focus for eradicating the disease should therefore be to tackle cattle’s transmission through improved testing (i.e. better tests and mandatory annual and pre-movement testing for all cattle), more movement restrictions and rigorous biosecurity on farms.
Calderdale Badger Protection Group supports the vaccination of badgers as an alternative to culling.
West Yorkshire, including Calderdale, is in the Low Risk Area (LRA) area for bovine tuberculosis. The LRA has a low incidence of bovine TB and no recognised significant reservoir of the disease in wildlife. Most, if not all TB breakdowns are the result of undetected infection brought in through cattle movements. However in May 2018 the government announced that it will allow culling of badgers in the low risk area where TB herd ‘breakdowns’ are linked to bTB in the badger population. Culling may be licensed in areas identified as hotpots by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).
Further information about the cull is available from the Badger Trust.