Independent Report Exposes Unsafe Procedures in Bovine TB Control in English Cattle
A new report on the possible future use of so called ‘epidemiological badger culling’ is being released to MPs and Parliament on 11th May 2023. Compiled over the last year by a group of independent experts, it looks closely at one specific element of the government’s bovine TB control policy proposals for English cattle herds; that regarding the role of badgers in bTB disease hotspots as they develop.
The report can be accessed HERE.
Government Policy in 2020 had suggested a move away from intensive mass badger culling, that by 2022 killed over 210,000 mostly healthy badgers in England since 2013. This huge programme of wildlife intervention has produced no demonstrable benefit to disease control in cattle, with the government silent on results since 2017.
Authored by experienced and independent researchers, veterinarians, and epidemiologists, it addresses DEFRA’s handling of the disease crisis, and why the 2020 “Next Steps” policy is likely to fail because of incorrect decision making and exaggerated claims made on the back of equivocal research results.
The report claims that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and DEFRA, are failing in their duty to provide proper scientific approaches to vital aspects of the heavily publicly funded, long running bovineTB control crisis in England.
Specifically, it exposes the poor rationale behind aspects of the proposal which aims to implement systematic localized elimination in an area of all (100%) of badgers, an approach termed by DEFRA as ‘epidemiological badger culling’. This back-door approach to systematic removal of badgers from farmland where cattle have bTB, is already being trialed in a small number of counties and appears to be planned in more. But it is founded on evidence and beliefs that are not fit for purpose.
The 55 page report with 2 page summary, provides a catalogue of evidence on issues that the authors say have been consistently misrepresented by APHA and the Chief Veterinary Officer. It calls for an immediate rethink, scientifically robust planning and an end to supporting an ill-conceived policy with uncertain science and procedures.
The report is prepared in advance of an anticipated government consultation over its future policy to phase out badger culling.
Griffiths, L., Griffiths, M., Jones, B., Jones, M., Langton, T.E.S., Rendle, M., Torgerson, P. 2023. A bovine tuberculosis policy conundrum in 2023. On the scientific evidence relating to the Animal and Plant Health Agency/DEFRA policy concept for ‘Epidemiological’ badger culling. An Independent report by researchers and veterinarians to DEFRA and the UK Parliament. APRIL 2023.