BBC Wildlife Magazine

Badger debate


I enjoyed your article on badgers and Bovine TB (Out of the woods?, spring 2020) and I feel that I learnt a lot. However, I would like to know more about the evidence relied on by Stuart Roberts of the NFU. He states “the latest peerreview­ed research definitive­ly shows the phenomenal impact culling badgers has on reducing TB levels in cattle…”. This is a very big claim, seemingly at odds with the views expressed by Rosie Woodroffe and Christl Donnelly in the article.

Tony Benton, via email

James Fair replies:

The figures the paper ( badger-culling) came up with are hotly disputed. First of all, it’s the same research referred to in the main copy (the one talked about after the subhead ‘Crunching the numbers’).

It is also the research referred to by Christiann­e Glossop, the chief vet of Wales. You’ll notice she has a quite different point of view to Stuart Roberts on the same piece of research! Those who advocate culling say the research supports their case, while those who don’t, say it’s full of holes.

If cattle were protected by vaccinatio­n, the presence or absence of bTB in badgers would not be important. A wildlife disease like a parasite or predator is just part of the ecology of a species, just another factor a wild species has to contend with. There are proposals to trial the BCG vaccine in cattle, but BCG was developed 100 years ago – technology has moved on. A COVID-19 vaccine has been developed to clinical trials stage in three months because there is a will to do so. There seems to be a persistent lack of will by the policy makers to consider any idea of vaccinatin­g cattle against TB.

John Woods, via email

 ??  ?? The last recorded sighting of a Chinese paddlefish was in 2003.
The last recorded sighting of a Chinese paddlefish was in 2003.
 ??  ?? What is to become of Britain’s badgers?
What is to become of Britain’s badgers?

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