Our view on badgers and bovine TB
The culling of badgers is not taking place on National Trust land.
As a major landowner with many farming tenants, we understand how devastating an outbreak of bovine TB can be. That’s why it’s important for us to play our part in tackling this disease by finding a practical solution to prevent its spread amongst badgers, between cattle and badgers and amongst cattle. Given the evidence currently available we don’t believe that the widespread culling of a protected species is the right approach to managing bovine TB.
In seeking ways to minimise the risk of badgers infecting cattle we’ve been actively working with partners on badger vaccination programmes, including a project currently underway in Derbyshire. We believe that the disease can be most effectively managed through a range of measures including vaccination, improved on-farm biosecurity, and changes to husbandry methods.
We’d like to see Governments working with partners to pursue a multi-pronged approach to tackling the disease, including better testing and surveillance of cattle and stricter biosecurity (i.e. keeping badgers and cattle apart). We’ve welcomed the Welsh Government’s use of these approaches.
The culls currently taking place in England have not so far shown conclusive evidence of their effectiveness in tackling bovine TB. Our concerns mean that we haven’t supported rolling out culls to areas which may affect our properties and we do not allow it on National Trust land that is leased to tenants.
Badgers and bovine TB in Wales and Northern Ireland
Culling over large areas is only taking place in England. The policy of the Welsh Government involves designating areas as low, intermediate or high in terms of TB risk and includes measures such as annual testing of cattle, the closer control of cattle movements, quick isolation of reactors (bTB infected cattle), penalties for late bTB testing and, until recently, vaccination of badgers. We’ve been strongly supportive of this multi-pronged approach.
In Northern Ireland, we’ve been supportive of the Test, Vaccinate or Remove trial and we are very interested in the outcomes of the five year programme, which is designed to provide locally relevant scientific evidence to inform decision making.