FLICKR, PETER TRIMMINGThe UK badger culls that began August 2013 have failed to limit the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle and were not conducted humanely, according to government-commissioned analyses released today (February 28). The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) green-lighted the culls in two counties last year—despite public protest—in an effort to lower levels of bovine TB, which has been devastating UK cattle farms for years, and which badgers are known to transmit.
According to BBC News, the documents showed that hired marksmen only killed about 50 percent of the badgers during the first six weeks of the culls, and the analyses revealed that the approach—shooting the badgers at night—may have left some animals injured such that they did not immediately die.
“I hope this will lead to the Secretary of State . . . to focus on other ways of eradicating TB in cattle,” Rosie Woodroffe, a senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London, told BBC News.
According to The Guardian, “The revelations are the most damaging yet and will make it challenging for ministers to justify their aim of rolling out further culls across the country.”
A DEFRA spokesperson told the BBC that the agency has yet to review the analyses that journalists obtained, but added: “We knew there’d be lessons to be learned from the first year of the pilot culls, which is why we’re looking forward to receiving the panel’s recommendations for improving the way they are carried out, because we need to do all we can to tackle this devastating disease.”