Chief Science Adviser: Badger Culling

Sir David King, the Government Chief Science Adviser, has published a report on bovine TB in Cattle and Badgers. His conclusion that badger culling is an effective strategy for controlling bTB differed from the Independent Science Groups. Sir David’s assessment is that:

  • Badgers are a clear source of infection for cattle. Reducing the density of badgers in those areas of England where there is a significant level of TB in cattle reduces the incidence of TB in cattle in the same area;
  • Removal of badgers is the best option available at the moment to reduce the reservoir of infection in wildlife. But in the longer term, alternative or additional means of controlling TB in badgers, such as vaccination, may become available. Research into these should continue;
  • Removal of badgers should only take place in those areas of the country where there is a high and persistent incidence of TB in cattle. The minimum overall area within which badger removal should take place is 100 km2, although increasing the area would increase the overall benefit. Badger removal programmes should be sustained (unless replaced or supplemented by alternative means of control);
  • There is some evidence of an adverse effect on the incidence of cattle TB in the area 0.5 – 1.0 km outside the removal area. This may or may not be totally related to the removal programme, and there should be monitoring outside the removal area to detect any such effect. Measures should be taken to limit the risk of such an effect;
  • After four years, the badger removal programme should be reviewed.