WellBeing News


In England, so often dubbed a nation of animal lovers, close to 177,000 native badgers, a protected species under UK law, have been shot under license since 2013, ostensibly to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle. There is no doubt that bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a severe problem for cattle, farmers, and taxpayers. In 2021, over 72,000 herd tests, covering more than 9 million individual cattle, were performed across Great Britain. Almost 39,000 reactor cattle and their direct contacts were slaughtered under the compulsory test and-slaughter program. More than 3.500 new herd incidents of bovine TB were recorded in 2021, and nearly 9% of cattle herds in the ‘High-Risk Area’ covering the West and South-West of England were affected and subject to movement and trading controls. The cost to the taxpayer of bTB testing and compensating farmers over the past decade is estimated to be more than £500 million (US$630 million). A typical bTB breakdown costs a farmer many thousands of pounds, not forgetting the associated disruption to their herds and businesses.

However, the licensed killing of badgers as a means of controlling bTB, introduced in 2013, has been steeped in controversy, with veterinarians, epidemiologists, animal welfare experts, farming representatives, politicians, government scientists, officials, and the wider public arguing over the ethics and effectiveness of the policy.