Scientists say culling badgers not worth the cash

Culling badgers is not a cost-effective way of controlling TB in cattle, say scientists who studied trials of a cull.

Reducing badger populations to stop them spreading TB to herds costs more than the impacts of the disease, researchers from Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said today.

Widespread repeated culling does reduce the incidence of the disease in cattle, but the benefits disappeared four years after the programme ended, their analysis of a major trial cull showed.

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The costs of the large scale of culling needed to have an impact would be far greater than the savings it delivered, the researchers said.

Farmers have urged the Government to permit a cull of badgers to help deal with the crippling effects of the disease on their livelihoods.

Professor Christl Donnelly, of Imperial College London, said that if a cull were to be undertaken, it would have to be widespread and repeated.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures put the average cost of an infected herd at 27,000 but a widespread cull over 150 square kilometres would cost between 1.35m and 2.14m.