From the spoken intro to my latest podcast for Lush Player:
“As many people will know – and as we’ve discussed in a number of podcasts here on Lush – the UK government has sanctioned the killing of badgers across an ever-expanding area of England in an attempt to control bovine Tuberculosis or
bTB, a disease of cattle and the cattle industry. To quote Dominic Dyer, the chief executive of the Badger Trust, the cull “is the largest destruction of a protected species in living memory. In the five years to the end of 2018, the government will have spent over £50m of public funds killing over 67,000 badgers, many of which are healthy and tbfree”.
Killing wildlife to protect economic interests has long been the default reaction of
government, but is there an alternative?
Vaccinating cattle against bTB is a non-starter because at the moment there is no test to distinguish between a vaccinated cow and an infected cow which means the meat cannot be sold
in tomajor retail markets, despite the minimal risk to consumers especially if that meat is thoroughly cooked.
So how about vaccinating badgers against bTB instead?
In April I attended the UK’s first Badger Vaccination Symposium. Hosted by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, National Trust, and the Badger Trust the event was held at Derby University and brought together policymakers, academics, scientists, veterinarians, farmers, and vaccination teams for the first time.
The symposium looked at the latest science concerning Bovine Tuberculosis, the role of badgers in the spread of the disease (and badgers undoubtedly do carry bTB, though whether they introduce bTB to new areas or catch it from diseased cattle being moved around the country is still hotly disputed) the practicalities of vaccinating badgers (with particular reference to the work taking place in Derbyshire) and its effectiveness as a strategy to halt the spread of the disease.”
After the symposium I spoke with five of the key players: first with Debbie Bailey of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Gail Weatherhead of the National Trust, then with the aforementioned Dominic Dyer, Professor Paul Lynch of Derby University and the Chair of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. and Tim Birch, the Head of Living Landscapes at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
That conversation has now been edited and is online at Badger Vaccination Symposium 2019