HROC (agency) - Kubota
Farminguk
25 August 2016 | Online since 2003
Less co2 Limited


10 June 2014 07:16:39 |Animal Health,Cattle,News

Small-scale badger cull risks spreading TB further, scientists warn


A pilot scheme to selectively cull badgers that test positive for tuberculosis risks spreading the disease further, according to scientists.
The scheme, which is to be piloted in Northern Ireland, will aim to vaccinate healthy badgers and cull infected ones as part of efforts to reduce the disease in cattle.
The PNAS paper looks at the impact of changes in badger behaviour that result from culling-induced perturbation. Surviving badgers are more likely to spread out into surrounding areas, and badgers from areas surrounding culling zones are more likely to move in to fill the ‘gaps’ created by culling. This increases the chances of contact between badgers from different social groups, and risks spreading infection more widely to previously uninfected badgers.
There is already good evidence to show that the proportion of infected badgers in an area increases following a cull, and this in turn potentially increases the risk of infection spreading from badgers to cattle.
This effect may occur even when the proportion of badgers killed is very low, or when attempts are made to select and kill only infected badgers, as with the ‘Test-Vaccinate/Remove’ or TVR pilot programme scheduled for Northern Ireland later this year. Illegal badger culling, which is feared to have increased under the cloak of government-controlled culls, is likewise expected to increase cattle TB risk.
By contrast, the research confirmed that cage trapping and vaccinating has value because while badger vaccination programmes may not eliminate infection from badger populations in the short term, they are likely to reduce the prevalence of infection in badgers without resulting in perturbation.
But the research, contained in the PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has likely dented hopes of those looking to find alternative methods to large-scale cullings which have been widely criticised by charities.
TB control efforts still entail slaughtering many thousands of cattle annually, costing British farmers and taxpayers millions.
Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Imperial College London and the University of Sheffield each contributed to the findings.
Prof. Rosie Woodroffe, Senior Research Fellow at ZSL said: "TVR sounds appealing because only infected badgers are killed. Unfortunately our findings suggest that the planned TVR pilot could alter badger behaviour in ways which risk exacerbating the bovine TB problem, rather than controlling it. This is one reason why ZSL is exploring alternative options to reduce transmission between badgers and cattle."
Transmission from wild badgers impedes control of cattle TB, but nonselective badger culls confer limited benefits because culling changes badger behavior in ways that increase disease spread.
A new plan to cull only test-positive badgers, and vaccinate test-negative badgers, termed test–vaccinate/remove (TVR), is probably more publicly acceptable, and might be more effective if culling small numbers of badgers prompts no behavioral change.
Unfortunately, this study shows that small-scale culling (such as TVR) changes badgers’ behavior in ways that risk increasing TB transmission among badgers and exacerbating cattle TB incidence rather than reducing it.
Stuart Morris, Brecon and Radnor NFU Cymru County Chairman said: “The future of beef herds in particular is extremely fragile as farmers worry for their livelihoods if they suffer a TB breakdown."
Earlier this year, farmers expressed their disappointment over Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's plans to abandon a roll-out of the badger cull programme.
CLA President Henry Robinson said: “Mr Paterson made it clear pilot culls’ roll-out has not been abandoned. Instead, the culls are being improved before being rolled out in other areas.
“The CLA will continue to work with the Government to ensure the aims of Defra’s newly released bTB eradication strategy are met, including culling in all the affected areas, and that this takes place as soon as possible.”
Dr Jon Bielby, research fellow at ZSL, said: "Our research is the first to look at the effects of removing small numbers of badgers from social groups.
"The results reinforce the need to fully understand the consequences of methods to control the spread of bovine TB before we embark on them. Otherwise we risk complicating what is already a very complex issue.
Mark Jones, executive director of Humane Society International UK, said: “This new research confirms what we and countless experts have been saying for years, that killing badgers is not an effective way of controlling TB in cattle, and could indeed make things worse not better for farmers. This is another huge blow to DEFRA’s plans to slaughter England’s badgers this summer and demonstrates yet again that the Government’s badger cull policy simply isn’t supported by the science and must be abandoned. It’s time now for farmers to recognise that leaving badgers alone whilst they get their own farming industry practices in order, is the best thing they can do to stem the tide of cattle TB infection. So we urge farmers to make a fresh start and pledge to be badger-friendly by protecting not persecuting badgers on their land. If they don’t, they may well be condemning themselves and their neighbours to an even worse cattle TB future.”

Download

5 Comments

loginuserlogo
Name

Please enter your name


Email

Please enter your email

Please enter valid email


Comment

Please enter your comment


Post Comment

Your comment has been submitted successfully. Please wait for admin approval.


Comments


Ireland | 25 August 2016
EU worry at lack of GM food testing in Ireland

Inspectors from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety said the lack of laboratory capacity at the Public Analyst’s Laboratory (PAL), which is located in St Finbarr’s...


France | 25 August 2016
French farmers may face more pain as dry weather hits crops

French farmers can’t seem to catch a break from the weather. After deluges earlier this year decimated wheat crops, now not enough rain is threatening their corn. Many fields in the European Union’...


France | 25 August 2016
French farmers protest over low milk prices outside major milk processor

Some 400 French dairy farmers have blockaded the roads around Lactalis, the milk processor based in Laval, France, this week in protest against low milk prices. The farmers have taken over the roun...


USA | 25 August 2016
The next agriculture revolution is under our feet

At the core of agriculture is innovation. Advancements in agricultural technology throughout the past century have allowed farmers to feed a population that has grown from less than 2 billion people t...


Australia | 25 August 2016
Dairy industry goes under spotlight as Barnaby Joyce signals end to $1 milk

Scott Morrison has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the national dairy industry as the agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, emerged from a dairy crisis meeting d...



Trending Now

Viewed
Discussed


Top stories you may have missed
FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The British public are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping or strengthening...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The sustained recovery of pig prices since the spring has come at a time wh...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel has declared the Russian import ban ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A new study has linked oilseed rape crops grown from neonicotinoid-treated ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Philip Hammond is to guarantee billions of pounds of UK government investme...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Access to the foreign labour market is 'critical', according the chief exec...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The Tenant Farmers Association has said the National Trust's vision for a p...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Ulster farmers will 'not lie down and wave the white flag' when Brexit nego...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The cost of rural crime to the UK economy costs £42.5 million a year, accor...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A young farmers club member from Oxfordshire has created a petition on the ...


closeicon
Username
Password