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As 35,000 badgers are culled, RSPCA urges Government to accelerate new bTB plans

02 April 2020

As highest ever number of badgers killed in latest cull, RSPCA urges Government to end culls now and speed up introduction of new herd management plans.

The RSPCA is urging government to accelerate new measures to tackle bTB and scrap culls as it is revealed that 35,034 badgers were killed in 2019 - the highest number ever.

Earlier this month, Government announced new long-term plans to move away from culls and towards badger vaccination, the development of cattle vaccination, more frequent and improved cattle testing, better management of cattle movements and incentives to improve biosecurity in the battle against bovine TB.

The RSPCA welcomed this move, but has called on Government to scrap culls completely and accelerate these plans in the face of newly released figures showing the highest ever badger deaths.

RSPCA Head of Wildlife Adam Grogan, said: “These appalling figures highlight the urgent need to speed up plans to tackle bTB through improved cattle herd management instead of culling.

“Many of the cull areas had their target kill figures revised due to the inaccuracy of methods used to estimate badger numbers. The RSPCA believes that this shows the initial population estimates used for the cull are ineffective and meaningless. Furthermore, many of the cull areas extended the culling period beyond the 42 days recommended by the scientific panel advising how such a cull could work.”

Adam continued: “This cull is inhumane and ineffective and costly to both animal welfare and farmers’ livelihoods.

“Bovine TB is a devastating disease for farmers because they see their cattle destroyed and their business restricted. However, scientific evidence shows that badgers avoid cattle where possible and indicates that the role they play in spreading bovine TB is vastly over-estimated.

“We are pleased the Government has finally published its response to the Godfray review of its bovine TB strategy and we cautiously welcome the Government’s announcement of a move away from culls towards badger vaccination, the development of cattle vaccination, more frequent and improved cattle testing, better management of cattle movements and incentives to improve biosecurity.

“We feel that proposed improvements to cattle based measures, along with badger vaccination, are the best solution for badgers, cattle and farmers.The badger cull has been cruel and ineffective and we have been calling for some time for an alternative strategy to control bovine TB that focuses on cattle which includes vaccination and improved testing.

“However these latest figures just back up the calls by the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations for Government to scrap the cull and focus on the cattle based methods they propose in their response to the Godfray report.We know from the Government’s response that culling is to continue, with additional licences to be issued for the next two years at least.”

The number of badger cull licences issued last year increased from thirty two to forty-three despite claims by leading scientists, as well as the animal welfare charity that it is an ineffective way to control bovine TB.



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