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We note Defra Minister George Eustice’s statement on 13 September1 referring to epidemiological data on bovine TB (bTB) in cattle in badger culling zones.2 He claims that: ‘Today’s figures showing reductions in TB cases in Somerset and Gloucestershire are evidence that our strategy for dealing with this slow-moving, insidious disease is delivering results.’1
Examination of that data in detail demonstrates no reduction in the prevalence of bTB-infected herds in Gloucestershire or Somerset as a result of culling.2 Prevalence is a measure of the percentage of cattle herds in badger culling zones which have bTB, taken at a specific point in time. It involves relatively simple calculations, giving hard data, and is important for considerations of control. Prevalence is a measure of the force driving infection between animals within a herd, between adjacent herds and between distant herds.3
The prevalence in cattle is no lower than it was before culling,2 despite the killing and removal of 1879 badgers in Gloucestershire and 1777 in Somerset. A total of 3656 badgers have been killed with no perceivable disease control benefits.
When ministerial statements are used as justification for the slaughter of badgers on an industrial scale across swathes of England, it is vital that they are accurate and reflect the best available veterinary and scientific advice.
The incidence is the calculated measure of new TB breakdowns in herds, and Defra claim that this has fallen after four years of badger culling.2 It is ‘calculated …
□ Defra has been approached for comment.
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