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Vets ‘not consulted on badger plan’

British Veterinary Association | British Veterinary Association

3 min read Partner content

It is “regrettable” that Owen Paterson didn’t consult with vets before today’s announcement of the Bovine TB strategy for England.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report published today on the humaneness, safety and efficacy of the pilot badger culls in England raises concerns.

The expert panel said after the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling.

These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said:

“The four year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are pilots and we always expected to learn lessons from them.

“It is crucial we get this right. That is why we are taking a responsible approach, accepting recommendations from experts to make the pilots better. Doing nothing is not an option.”

BVAPresident Robin Hargreaves, said:

“Clearly the headlines from the IEP report raise a number of concerns about the humaneness and efficacy of controlled shooting of badgers.

“It is regrettable that the Secretary of State has announced his decision on the way forward without consulting key stakeholders, including BVA.

“We are unable to comment further on the announcement until we have had time to fully consider the report in consultation with our members.

“To date BVAhas supported the use of targeted, humane badger culling in carefully selected areas as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling bovine TB.

“But we have made it clear that we can only support badger culling if the method used is humane, safe and effective. That is why BVAcalled for controlled shooting to be tested and critically evaluated against these criteria by an independent group of experts.

“Bovine TB is a devastating disease and we know that we need a comprehensive package of measures to tackle the disease in cattle and wildlife if we are to stop the advancing spread of TB northwards and eastwards.

“We broadly supported the draft bovine TB strategy when it was published in August last year, particularly the targeted measures in high incidence and edge areas.

“Regardless of our future response to the findings of the IEP, we will only be able to eradicate bovine TB if we tackle the disease in the wildlife reservoir as well as cattle.”

BVAis holding a joint meeting of its Veterinary Policy Group and Ethics and Welfare Group to discuss the report in detail and make policy recommendations to BVACouncil.

Defra said dealing with bovine TB in badgers in high risk areas is just one part of a new long-term strategy to eradicate bovine TB from England.

The strategy demonstrates the wide range of tools we will use to achieve TB free status by 2038. This includes offering grant funding for private badger vaccination projects in the edge areas aiming to increase TB immunity in uninfected badgers and reduce the spread of the disease.

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