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Simulating the impact of badger culling on bovine tuberculosis in cattle
  1. Rowland Kao, PhD
  1. Boyd Orr Centre for Population and Ecosystem Health, and Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G61 1QH, UK
  1. e-mail: rowland.kao{at}

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IT is now 15 years since the Krebs report on bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle and badgers highlighted the need for a rigorous scientific trial to quantify the role of badgers in causing cattle herd breakdowns (Krebs and others 1997). The report resulted in the implementation of the randomised badger culling trial (RBCT), with the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) being responsible for the analysis of the RBCT data. While the ISG's analyses and final report in 2007 (Bourne and others 2007) offered considerable insight into bovine TB epidemiology, it did not provide the definitive answers that had initially been hoped for. One of the most contentious outcomes of the RBCT was the identification of an increase in breakdown incidence due to the ‘badger perturbation effect’, most obviously seen in the ‘reactive’ cull of badgers in response to a local herd breakdown, but also observed under more widespread ‘proactive’ culling (Donnelly and others 2003, Vial and Donnelly 2011). Culling only became beneficial when culling areas were projected on to unfeasibly large areas, and this meant that the ISG recommended against the use of badger culling as an effective means to control bovine TB in British cattle (Bourne and others 2007). However, this conclusion has been challenged on various grounds, and an independent scientific …

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