caroline legg (CC BY 2.0)
British Wildlife 34.6 May 2023

Bovine TB and Badgers: a weakened link

In 2021, Patrick Barkham addressed a number of questions regarding the effectiveness of Badger culls and what the future of bovine TB control may look like (BW 32: 351–357). To answer these questions further, Tom Langton reviews the latest scientific findings and the outcomes from several legal battles in the High Courts.

Fifty years ago, The Badgers Act 1973 made traditional persecution of Badgers Meles meles unlawful yet allowed for government-sanctioned Badger-culling. Since the previous update in British Wildlife (Barkham 2021), and in the three years before, annual summaries by Natural England (Natural England 2023) suggest an average of around 36,000 mostly completely healthy Badger adults and cubs have been shot annually by game­keepers, gun enthusiasts and farmers in an attempt to control bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle herds.

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