Badger Trust calls for an immediate halt to badger killing in Wales as Welsh Labour Government waste over £76,000 per badger on failed TB test and cull policy.
The Welsh Labour Government has released a report which reviews the outcome of localised badger culling on three farms in Wales between August and November 2017, in an attempt to lower bovine TB in cattle herds with chronic TB breakdowns.
Across the three farms, badgers were trapped and tested for TB using a sett side blood test and were killed if they tested positive for the disease. In total only five badgers tested positive for TB using the sett side test. However, when the blood test was repeated in the laboratory after they were killed and subjected to a post mortem, it was found that none tested positive on a 12 week tissue culture.
The total cost of the trapping test and removal policy including staff costs, equipment, field surveys, hair trapping, cage trapping, sett side blood tests and post mortems was £383,212 or a staggering £76,662 for each badger killed.
Giving his reaction to the results of the badger test and removal trial Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said:
“These results show the huge failure of the badger trap, test and removal policy on scientific effectiveness, cost and animal welfare grounds. This sends out a very clear signal to the farming and livestock veterinary industry in Wales, that any form of badger culling is a hugely costly distraction from dealing with the key causes of the spread of bovine TB in the cattle industry.
As the Badger Trust has stated to the Welsh Chief Vet Christianne Glossop on repeated occasions, there can be no justification for killing badgers in an attempt to lower bovine TB in cattle. After the disastrous results of this research project, the Welsh Government must bring an immediate halt to any further killing of badgers and return to its previous badger vaccination policy, that has significant public support and is a far more cost effective and humane means of reducing the spread of bovine TB in the badger population, as a result of industrial pollution from the intensive livestock industry.”
Reacting to the release of the report, anti badger cull supporters in Wales stated:
“The Welsh Government have spent £383,000 on killing five healthy badgers. None proved positive for TB at post mortem. Leading ecologist Professor Rosie Woodroffe has described the test used on the trapped badgers as “a rubbish test.”
This report reveals that the policy is a shockingly costly failure and is yet more evidence that badgers are not to blame. Instead of spending time, money and resources on killing badgers, the
Government should concentrate on clearing out the reservoir of infection in the cattle herds. Introducing accurate actiphage testing should be the urgent priority, alongside controlling slurry pollution and other mechanisms which spread infection among cattle and out into the environment”
Media contact: Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust