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. In an effort to minimise the risk of badgers infecting cattle on our tenant farms and see how it could be deployed over a large area we ran a successful four year badger vaccination projectat Killerton in Devon. We then started work with the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency to make Killerton a national training school for the vaccination of badgers. This work is now on hold because of an international shortage of vaccine.
Vaccination is one part of the mix of measures needed to tackle bovine TB. Once the shortage of vaccine has been addressed, we’d like to see Governments working with partners to carry out further testing to show its effectiveness as part of a multi-pronged approach to tackling the disease based on the best available scientific evidence, which includes better testing and surveillance of cattle and stricter biosecurity (i.e. keeping badgers and cattle apart). We’ve welcomed the devolved Governments’ moves on improving surveillance and biosecurity.
We have had concerns about how the two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are being run but their success or failure will only become clear when the four years of the cull are completed. Our concerns mean that we haven’t supported rolling out culls to other areas which may affect our properties, including the cull in Dorset which began in September 2015 and those in Herefordshire, Cornwall and Devon which began in September 2016, and we aren’t allowing culling on our land. This includes not allowing it on National Trust land that is leased to tenants.
We have written to our farm tenants in south west England explaining our position on the cull.
Badgers and bovine TB in Wales and Northern Ireland
Culling is only taking place in England. The policy of the Welsh government focuses on more rigorous and frequent testing of cattle, the closer control of cattle movements and (until the global shortage of vaccine) vaccination of badgers and we have been strongly supportive of this approach.
In Northern Ireland, we have been broadly supportive of the Test, Vaccinate 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.