A research paper, published earlier this month in Scientific Research, sheds further light on the effectiveness of a rigorous and thorough badger culling policy in reducing the incidence of bovine TB in cattle.
Unlike some other research in this field, the study conducted by Downs and co-workers assessed the real effects of the 4 yearly culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset between 2013-2017. The results overwhelmingly demonstrate the positive impact of this policy on the TB incidence of cattle in these regions. Indeed, four years after the introduction of badger culling, the level of bovine TB in cattle reduced by 66% and 37% in Gloucestershire and Somerset respectively. This is consistent with earlier analyses which also showed a reduction in cattle TB incidence 2 years after the onset of culling in these regions. Moreover, current data on the 2km buffer zone around the edge of the cull areas saw TB incidence decline by 36% in Gloucestershire. There was no change in the TB incidence in cattle in the buffer zone in somerset and therefore no evidence of the oft-reported negative perturbation effects in either of these buffer zones.
Alongside cattle control measures, the FUW remains a strong proponent of badger culling as a means to reduce bovine TB levels in cattle. The Welsh cattle industry continues to operate under a plethora of cattle controls and testing regimes which have yet to make a significant impact on the levels of bovine TB in cattle. The FUW believes that Welsh TB policy should be reviewed and a scientifically tried and tested badger cull policy be established which learns the lessons from the strategy employed by defra in England.