Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Plan to Kill Badgers in Britain to Stop TB Meets Opposition

Animal activists have criticized the Governments chief science adviser, Sir David King, for recommending that badgers be "culled" to control the spread of tuberculosis.

The recommendation by Sir David King contradicts a report earlier this year by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG), that said a cull would be ineffective and overly costly. In June, the ISG concluded assessing the results of a nine-year experiment analysing whether culling would slow or stop the disease being spread.

It found that badgers did play a role in spreading TB, but such extensive culling would need to take place in order to take effect, that it would be too expensive. It also found the disease can spread to adjacent farms from those involved in a cull, shifting the problem rather than resolving it.

But Sir David yesterday concluded a cull was the "best option available at the moment to reduce the reservoir of infection in wildlife," in areas where there was a "high and persistent" level of the disease in cattle.

His advice, to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was based on the ISG research that used randomised badger-culling trials in 30 areas of England.

Sir David's report said culling would be designed to reduce but not entirely remove badgers in the affected areas – within 100 sq kim – and must be done humanely and "within conservation considerations".

Photo by Lawrie Phipps

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