Missed out

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Your Feedback - John Burton, via email

Pa­trick Barkham’s de­tailed and thor­ough re­port (Bad­gers in the Fir­ing Line, Septem­ber 2017) is a very use­ful sum­mary of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in re­la­tion to bad­gers and bTB. How­ever, there is a very im­por­tant omis­sion, and that is the role of other wildlife as reser­voirs or trans­mit­ters of the dis­ease. Deer, feral pigs/wild boar, brown rats and voles are all known to be­come in­fected, but very lit­tle re­search has been car­ried out on their role as ei­ther vec­tors or reser­voirs. Hav­ing fol­lowed the is­sue for some 40 years I have con­cluded that the bad­ger is sim­ply a con­ve­nient scape­goat. The con­clu­sion I draw is that cat­tle are the reser­voir, and it is mov­ing cat­tle around that causes the out­breaks. This also might ex­plain why bTB dis­ap­peared from some parts of Bri­tain where bad­gers re­mained abun­dant, but had pre­vi­ously had in­fected cat­tle graz­ing in the area.

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