The UK has had a problem with bovine TB for years. The problem has continued to be that many cattle are lost each year.
Badgers are blamed for carrying the infection between fields. It has been pointed out that cows are often not checked when bought or sold, and that the spread of the illness can often be attributed to this. Never-the-less, the British government has steadfastly continued on this plan for a very long time.
Although cull trials were concluded to be a success, this has been contested. This is because while there is a slight reduction of TB in the study area, this is usually undone by a significant increase in spread in the area surrounding the cull. This is as a result of badgers having to move further to find a mate – meaning that carriers carry the illness further than they would have in the past.
It is certainly true, that claims by the farming minister are at best exaggerated, though most would suggest they are intentionally misleading. It has also been pointed out, that with many of the deaths, marksmen were unable to get clear shots meaning that the animals would have suffered for some time before dying.
There are far more effective methods for dealing with this illness. One of the most simple is vaccination – either badger or cattle or both. The problem in the past, was that tests could not tell the difference between a vaccinated cow and an ill one.
One of the other crazy statistics was that it is estimated the cull has cost £3,000 per animal killed. Given that vaccination is estimated at £800 this is a far cheaper method, particularly as it does not cause the badgers to go on long journeys further spreading the illness around.