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Badger culling: Questions and answers

4 June 2010 - BBC News

By Richard Black Environment correspondent for BBC News

Please follow the link at the bottom of this page to read the complete article on the BBC web-site by Richard Black. It is well worth reading and studying in detail.

A pilot cull of badgers is about to start in Wales with the aim of curbing TB in cattle; and the UK government has indicated that culling may begin in England too in the next few years.

What is happening in Wales?

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is commissioning a pilot cull of badgers within a 288 sq km (111 sq miles) area of SW Wales. ... Animals will be trapped in cages and shot, although the control order also allows for the shooting of roaming badgers and for the use of lethal injection. ... The order gives contractors the right to enter anyone's land. A minority of landowners have declared their opposition. ...

Why is it happening?

The incidence of bovine TB has been growing in Welsh cattle. WAG says that more than 12,000 cattle were slaughtered as a result of TB infection in 2008 (compared with 669 in 1997), at a cost of 24m to the public purse. ... In March 2009, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones (elin.jones@wales.gov.uk) announced that a pilot badger cull would be instigated. North Pembrokeshire was chosen largely because TB is an acute problem there, with more than half the compensation paid out across Wales going to farmers in this area.  ...

How much will it cost?

WAG has allocated 9m over the five-year period to intensive bovine TB controls within the North Pembrokeshire area, including culling. WAG's advisory documents put the culling cost at 2,830 per badger!

Is culling backed by science?

The biggest study on the issue anywhere in the world - the UK Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), also known as the "Krebs Trial" - concluded that "reactive culling" (killing badgers in response to a TB outbreak in cattle) makes the problem worse, producing an increase in infections in cattle. ...

In early 2007, the government's advisers, the Independent Scientific Group, which included the scientific leaders of the Krebs Trial, concluded that culling "cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle TB in Britain".

Is it legal?

The European badger (Meles meles) is a protected species under both the European Bern Convention of 1979 and the UK's 1992 Protection of Badgers Act. ...

What about vaccination?

Current regulations mean that vaccinated cattle could not be exported to the rest of the EU, as current tests cannot distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals. ...

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