Assessing the effects of the first 2 years of industry-led badger culling in England on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in 2013–2015
Brunton LA., Donnelly CA., O'Connor H., Prosser A., Ashfield S., Ashton A., Upton P., Mitchell A., Goodchild AV., Parry JE., Downs SH.
Culling badgers to control the transmission of bovine tuberculosis (TB) between this wildlife reservoir and cattle has been widely debated. Industry-led culling began in Somerset and Gloucestershire between August and November 2013 to reduce local badger populations. Industry-led culling is not designed to be a randomized and controlled trial of the impact of culling on cattle incidence. Nevertheless, it is important to monitor the effects of the culling and, taking the study limitations into account, perform a cautious evaluation of the impacts. A standardized method for selecting areas matched to culling areas in factors found to affect cattle TB risk has been developed to evaluate the impact of badger culling on cattle TB incidence. The association between cattle TB incidence and badger culling in the first 2 years has been assessed. Descriptive analyses without controlling for confounding showed no association between culling and TB incidence for Somerset, or for either of the buffer areas for the first 2 years since culling began. A weak association was observed in Gloucestershire for Year 1 only. Multivariable analysis adjusting for confounding factors showed that reductions in TB incidence were associated with culling in the first 2 years in both the Somerset and Gloucestershire intervention areas when compared to areas with no culling (incidence rate ratio (IRR): 0.79, 95% CI: 0.72–0.87, p