The third article from our Vet News Farm Editorial Team is by Pippa Plowright, on a study into illegal badger shooting.
10% of welsh farmers report killing badgers illegally
Emma Plowright (Vet News Farming Editor)
A study carried out by the University of Bangor, the University of Kent and Kingston University has shown that around 1 in 10 farmers and 14.5% of cattle farmers, in Wales admitted to killing a badger illegally in the 12 months preceding the study.
Previous research has suggested that badger culling may have a positive effect if at least 70% of badgers in an area are killed. This culling should be carried out by trained marksmen and is, at present, not permitted.
It is thought ‘Uncontrolled’ shooting such as that investigated in this study is likely to disrupt badger populations, causing the disease to spread further. This is because social groups within the population may be disrupted causing the surviving badgers to spread further than they otherwise would, passing on the disease both badgers and cattle.
A particular type of study was used in which dice are rolled in order to decide whether or not the respondent should answer truthfully. This means that those who behaved illegally are protected whilst giving only a five per cent error margin.
Researchers who carried out the study have stated that this information should be taken into account by policy makers as ‘studies investigating the effects of badger culling on TB outbreaks in cattle have not factored in the prevalence of illegal badger killing, and its potential to spread disease’
Last year the Welsh government opted against culls in favour of a badger vaccination scheme, which has been opposed by some due to its cost. It was announced this week that further measures will be put in place to prevent the spread of bovine TB.