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Vets dismiss culling as bovine TB levels drop

Some vets feel badger culling does not help control bTB.

Despite bovine tuberculosis (bTB) dropping to its lowest level since 2008, some vets have suggested that badger culling offers “no control benefit”. However, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have argued that all options, including culling, should remain open.

As the general election approaches, the culling question has received renewed attention and has caused political division. If elected, Labour has pledged to end the badger cull. This division has also made its way to the veterinary sector. Despite bTB levels at their lowest for 15 years, the Progressive Veterinary Association (PVA) commented: “Wildlife control in our opinion has no bTB control benefit but has resulted in severe and proven welfare harm to animals.”

Henry Grub, a researcher at Imperial College into the control of bovine tuberculosis in the UK, told ST: “It is great to see that national TB levels are lower, but scientifically it is very difficult to figure out what contribution badger culling has had in this trend. In the same period across the country, farmers and vets have been tightening biosecurity, increasing testing regimes and using more sensitive tests — all
of this will also have helped reduce TB.

“What is important is that future policy changes consider the farmers themselves and give them options. A potentially worst-case scenario would be one where badger culling ends without alternatives.”