Our view on badgers and Bovine TB
Latest update 07.11.2013 09:32
We care about wildlife and we also care about our tenant farmers, who deliver much of our wider conservation work in the countryside. Playing our part in tackling the spread of bovine TB requires us to carefully balance both those responsibilities.
Our preferred approach is for a portfolio of measures to be used, including vaccination, better testing and surveillance of cattle and looking at whether increasing 'biosecurity' measures to keep badgers and cattle apart can help. If we can make it viable and effective, vaccination of badgers could be a powerful tool in reducing badger-cattle transmission and we’ve launched a pilot vaccination programme at Killerton, one of our major estates in Devon.
In the meantime, we recognise that research shows badger culling can make a contribution to disease control. But, if it’s to be used, it must conform with the strict criteria set out in the review of culling by Professor Bourne. The current pilot culls seem to be moving away from those criteria and we’ve written to Defra to make clear our concerns about this.
The two pilot culls don’t include any National Trust land. If there are any proposals to cull on our land, we’d assess them against the strict criteria laid out by Professor Bourne, and wouldn’t allow a cull unless proposals conformed with these criteria. Given our worries about the present culls, we’d need to be satisfied that Defra would not then seek extensions to culls or other changes that could undermine their validity.