News about Badgers in the UK
Home Blog Animals Pictures Help Seeing Badger Groups Education News Search Shop
Badgerland External 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
Finding Badgers?
Buy our Finding Evidence of Badgers booklet
External News

We have provided links to stories from external news organisations so you can follow the media interest in badgers, and see who writes on the subject. We do not endorse external authors.

Science aligns against Welsh badger cull

13 July 2010 - BBC News

By Richard Black Environment correspondent for BBC News

Badgerland say: Please read Richard Black's full article on the link at the bottom of this page:

The Badger Trust appealed against the Welsh badger cull on three grounds:

  1. the WAG did not expect the cull to generate a "substantial" reduction in TB incidence, which is required in law
  2. it had failed to balance concern for badgers and nature against the projected benefit to farmers
  3. its control order covered the whole of Wales, but should have been directed only to the North Pembrokeshire target zone.

On the first point, two of the three judges agreed with the Badger Trust that the badger cull was not expected to make a substantial reduction in bovine TB in cattle

On the second point, two of the three judges also agreed that it failed to balance the immense harm done to badgers against the very limited benefit to cattle.

On the third point, all three judges were unanimous - the WAG was in error. Minister Jones knew this already as she was preparing to launch an amended control order within days.

Essentially though, the key thing that came to light is that badger culling would not make a substantial cut in the incidence of bovine TB. The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT, also known as the Krebs trial) - saw 11,000 badgers killed to find out whether culling can be an effective control strategy. This showed that:

  • Killing badgers when there was a TB outbreak made things worse.
  • Wiping badgers out from areas irrespective of TB incidence made things better inside the cull zone, but worse in a ring outside it.
  • Overall, this means you could can expect a 9% reduction in bovine TB in cattle by killing all the badgers across a wide area.

Importantly how long does a 9% reduction last once the badger killing has stopped. Follow-up research on the Krebs sites is still going on, but, as the years go by, you might expect the effects to subside. In other words, the evidence for a sustained effect of culling is likely to weaken. And TB rates in Pembrokeshire would also be expected to fall as enhanced biosecurity on farms and additional testing takes place.

Vaccinating badgers also becomes a better prospect, with trials underway in the Irish Republic and poised to begin in England.

It is an open secret that silent (and illegal) killing of badgers goes on, and not just in Wales. But scientifically, it is just about the worst thing a farmer could do. "The science says it'll make the problem worse," says Dr Rosie Woodroffe, one of the scientists on the Krebs trial who is now based at the Zoological Society of London. "Small-scale illegal killing will work like reactive culling and will increase the incidence of cattle TB, as it disrupts badgers' social structure, making them range further afield and transmit the bacterium to more badgers and more cattle."

For more information, please click the following link: