Vets want inhumane badger cull method dropped

CONTROLLED SHOOTING of badgers is not being carried out effectively or humanely in the battle to halt the spread of bovine tuberculosis and should be ceased immediately, an influential group of veterinarians said.

The British Veterinary Association has called for controlled shooting to be dropped as a method used in the badger culls trials in the South West. Pic: Whitfield Benson.

Instead, the controversial four-year culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire should only be completed using the “tried and tested” method of cage trapping and shooting which had proven it could be used to deliver a safe, humane and effective cull in the earlier Randomised Badger Culling Trial, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said.

The new stance has been prompted, the group said, by the results of the first two years of culling in the two pilot areas and had been agreed following a full discussion at BVA Council during which a wide range of views were expressed.

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John Blackwell, the Association’s president, said: “BVA’s support for badger culling as part of the bovine TB eradication strategy has always been predicated on it being delivered humanely, effectively and safely.

“BVA supported the pilots to test the use of controlled shooting but data from the first two years of culling has not demonstrated conclusively that controlled shooting can be carried out effectively and humanely based on the criteria that were set.”

He said the BVA remained convinced that badger culling must form part of the comprehensive strategy for tackling bovine TB and that culling should be rolled out to other areas where badgers contribute to the high incidence of TB in cattle, using the cage trapping and shooting method only.

Mr Blackwell added: “In the public debate on badger culling and bovine TB, we are in danger of losing sight of the many other important control measures being applied. It is essential that the next government commits to a comprehensive strategy that employs all available measures.”