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Bovine TB
Bovine TB and badger control
  1. Marc Abraham1,
  2. Caroline Allen2,
  3. Heather Bacon3,
  4. Fiona Dalzell4,
  5. Bronwen Eastwood5,
  6. Richard Edwards6,
  7. Phill Elliott7,
  8. Bruce Fogle8,
  9. Geoffrey Hale9,
  10. Geraldine Hale9,
  11. Mark Jones10,
  12. Andrew Knight11,
  13. Jo Lewis12,
  14. Iain McGill13,
  15. Alastair MacMillan14,
  16. Andre Menache15,
  17. Richard Saunders16,
  18. Peter Southgate17 and
  19. Paul Torgerson18
  1. 186 York Street, London W1H 1QS
  2. 2Grove Lodge Veterinary Group, 21 Southwick Street, Southwick, Brighton, East Sussex BN42 4AD
  3. 3226-228 Essex Road, Islington, London N1 3AP
  4. 419/5 Polwarth Crescent, Edinburgh EH11 1HR
  5. 52 Littlewood Cottages, School Road, Norwich NR8 6EP
  6. 6Wilbury Veterinary Surgery, 20 Wilbury Avenue, Hove, East Sussex BN3 6HR
  7. 7Foxfield, Slindon Bottom Road, Fontwell, West Sussex BN18 0SN
  8. 8 9 Hunt Road, Earls Colne, Essex CO6 2NX
  9. 9Empress Business Centre, 380 Chester Road, Manchester M16 9EA
  10. 10Humane Society International/UK, 5 Underwood Street, London N1 7LY
  11. 11189 Liberty Place, Sheepcote Street, Birmingham B16 8JZ
  12. 12138 Chobham Road, Sunningdale, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 0HU
  13. 1381 Stanmer Park Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 7JL
  14. 14Pointers, West Chiltington Road, Pulborough, West Sussex RH20 2EE
  15. 15Flat 5, 49 Granville Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1HB
  16. 1633 Cleeve Road, Bristol BS4 2JR
  17. 1761 Ferry Road, Sudbourne, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 2BJ
  18. 18University of Zurich, Section of Epidemiology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

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THERE have been a number of letters in recent issues of Veterinary Record relating to the efficacy of badger culling as a means of controlling the spread of bovine TB in cattle (Den Leonard, VR, May 24, 2014, vol 174, pp 535-536; Declan O'Rourke and Neil Blake, and Martin Whitehead, VR, June 7, 2014, vol 174, pp 584-586). We felt the need to provide some clarity with regard to the evidence base relating to this complex issue.

First, the efficacy of indiscriminate badger culling (or more correctly ‘killing’, since the term ‘culling’ implies a selective process) as a means of controlling bovine TB is not supported by the available scientific literature (eg, Donnelly and others 2006). As John Bourne stated in his introduction to the Independent Scientific Group's report following the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), ‘It is unfortunate that agricultural and veterinary leaders continue to believe, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, that the main approach to cattle TB control must involve some form of badger population control’ (Independent Scientific Group 2007). Indeed there is good evidence that badger social stability mitigates, and social perturbation (caused by killing) increases, the spread of infection in badgers (Weber and others 2013), and scientific analysis confirms that, because of the perturbing impact culling has on surviving badger behaviour, badger culling can result in increased prevalence of infection among remaining …

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