The Bovine TB Eradication Programme

Wednesday 19th October 2016

Photo by Elliot Neep

The following response from the Wildlife Trusts is issued following the statement by the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs in the Assembly plenary on Tuesday 18 October 2016.

A new regionalised response to eliminate bovine TB in Wales was announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.

We are pleased that the Cabinet Secretary will continue to rule out an English-style cull of badgers. We welcome that the Cabinet Secretary will continue to rely on an evidence based scientific approach.

The evidence states that badgers are the direct source of only 5.7% of bTB outbreaks (1) and therefore most bovine TB in cattle is contracted from other cattle. As such, tackling the disease in cattle must remain the top priority. The DEFRA funded Randomised Badger Cull Trial concluded that culling would make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control. Recent English culls have also demonstrated that culling is expensive (nearly £7,000 per badger) and make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control (2). As a consequence the Wildlife Trusts believe that a substantial additional evidence base, including detailed scrutiny of local drivers in disease epidemiology would be required prior to the adoption of any substantive changes in TB policy

Dr Lizzie Wilberforce, Conservation Manager, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said:

“The Wildlife Trusts in Wales have always advocated for an evidence-based approach to counteracting the risk posed to cattle and wildlife by bovine TB. This includes looking at other areas where they have an evidence-based and scientifically defendable approach to deal with bTB. We will work with Welsh Government to inform ongoing measures to eliminate bovine TB in Wales.”

(1) Donnelly & Nouvellet (2013) The contribution of badgers to confirmed tuberculosis in ca le in high-incidence areas in England. PLOS Currents Outbreaks 10 (1).
(2) As reported in the Guardian (Sept 2015) Experts call for immediate halt to £7,000-per-badger cull: