• Question: Do you think that badgers should be culled to stop the spread of TB?

    Asked by glbrookes to Cat on 13 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Cat O'Connor

      Cat O'Connor answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Hi Glbrookes (we meet again),

      This is a really tough question and one which I find really hard to answer! Firstly you got to know a couple of things:
      • Bovine tb is a really complicated disease and there is lots still that we don’t understand
      • Both cattle and badgers spread the disease and we’re not sure which one is more responsible
      • We’ve been trying to control this disease in cattle since 1950!!

      I think the only way we can stop this disease in cattle and badgers is to hit it with all we’ve got! This will involve a huge joint campaign of killing infected cattle and badgers and vaccinating badgers and cattle we know don’t have the disease. But here’s the big problem: We don’t have a test that can tell us if a badger is infected, the test for cattle only gets it right about 70% of the time, the vaccine for badgers is only in the trial phase and may not be very effective and a vaccine for cattle is still being developed but current laws say that we can’t use it even if we have one! So you see that we stand between a rock and a hard place. We need to do something because the disease is becoming more common and it’s costing the government, and thus us, MILLIONS each year.

      I know this may not be a popular opinion but I think badgers will have to be killed if we want to control bovine tb, but killing badgers alone will not stop the disease. I nearly cry when I think about it because I love badgers. But we rely on the agricultural sector for so much so we need to take care of our cows and farmers!

      I hope this anwsers your really tough question and if you’d like to ask me any more about it, please comment on the question!