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Bovine TB Group

Link monitors the Government's policies to control bovine TB in cattle. We recognise that bovine TB in cattle is a significant issue for livestock farmers and supports the need to find effective measures to reduce the impact of this disease. We work to encourage the Government to ensure that any measures introduced to tackle bovine TB in cattle are legal, sustainable, based on sound science and publicly acceptable.

Link Manager: Ellie Ward, Senior Policy Officer

Update from the Group:

The Government’s response to the Godfray review of its bovine TB strategy contained positive commitments to increase the focus on cattle and badger vaccination and enhance cattle testing and biosecurity in the next phase of the strategy. We welcomed these signals that culling will not go on indefinitely and were encouraged that much of the government’s response reflects the recommendations made by Link in 2019.

However, many more badgers will be culled before vaccination is a viable alternative and we are dissatisfied with the government’s indication that culling will always be an option when ‘epidemiological evidence suggests that badgers are involved’. This epidemiological evidence amounts to vague veterinary opinion and is not sound enough evidence on which to base such significant decisions as culling of a protected species.

In April 2024, the Group responded to the consultation on 'proposals to evolve badger control policy and introduce additional cattle measures', in particular the proposed 'targeted badger intervention' policy. We do not support the policy, and in our response set out a number of concerns with the proposed approach, including:

  • A lack of clear, scientific evidence to show that badger culling alone has significantly reduced bTB in cattle, and therefore a lack of clear, scientific evidence to justify further culling of a protected British species. 
  • A lack of explanation for how evidence will be used to determine the role of badgers in local disease outbreaks.
  • A failure to define critical aspects of the proposal, such as 'clusters'.
  • Continued use of controlled shooting, a method that multiple independent experts consider to be inhumane.
  • A lack of ambition concerning badger vaccination, or stronger cattle measures. 

Government must implement a more sustainable approach to controlling bTB, through a combination of badger vaccination and stronger cattle measures.

In March 2021, the Group responded to the 'Bovine tuberculosis - consultation on proposals to help eradicate the disease in England'. We set out our opposition to the badger cull policy, highlighting that the huge costs of the policy, in terms of animal welfare, biodiversity and finance, have not been matched by evidence of its efficacy in controlling disease. The Group also responded to the Bovine tuberculosis call for views on 'possible future measures to accelerate disease eradication in England', in April 2021.

Link's response to Government's May 2021 announcement of the next phase of the bovine TB strategy can be found here.

For further information, contact Ellie Ward, Link’s Senior Policy Officer.

Last Updated: 30 April 2024