European badgers and the control of bovine tuberculosis in the United Kingdom
Woodroffe R., Donnelly CA.
The European badger has become infamous because of its incompletely understood role in the spread of bovive tuberculosis to cattle, despite in actuality being directly implicated in only 5.7% of herd breakdowns. Randomised Badger culling trial data suggest that badger culling could make only a limited contribution to TB eradication in Britain. Surviving badgers in both proactive and reactive culling areas immigrate into the surrounding area, which generally worsens the rate of cattle herd breakdowns by around 25% in these areas. While badger vaccination appears promising as a potential TB control tool, there is not yet sufficient evidence to judge its effectiveness. Free shooting of badgers has proven less effective than hoped, failing to reach cull targets. Furthermore, instances of badger suffering have been reported. Consequently, controlling TB through badger management remains technically, ethically and politically challenging and alternative approaches directed at cattle are likely to be more effective.