RSPCA Cymru is urging the Welsh Government not to adopt measures which could result in badgers being killed unnecessarily, as efforts to tackle bovine TB in Wales continue.
The charity has largely welcomed the Welsh Government’s new plans, which are primarily cattle-based – and rule out a cull of badgers like the one being pursued in parts of England.
However, as part of a refreshed approach to eradicate the disease, there are concerns the Welsh Government are considering alternative ways of managing the disease in badgers, such as a trap/vaccinate/remove plan, similar to one being trialled in Northern Ireland.
The TVR method requires that some badgers be killed and risks unnecessarily culling healthy badgers that may be TB-free.
Members of the public are now being urged by RSPCA Cymru to sign a petition, endorsing the charity’s consultation response to emphasise the strength of feeling that exists within Wales as to the importance of ensuring animal welfare is at the heart of any bovine TB eradication plan.
Currently, the Welsh Government is operating a vaccination policy for badgers in an Intensive Action Area – instead of culling.
Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease of cattle. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) which can also infect and cause disease in many other mammals – including badgers.
Martin Fidler Jones, RSPCA Cymru political campaigns manager, said:
“Bovine TB is a devastating disease for many animals, and its impact on the farming community is vast, so eradication efforts must be a priority.
“Wales has been making excellent progress in reducing the number of herd breakdowns via cattle controls – and we hope that continues, with better husbandry, increased levels of testing and improved biosecurity at the forefront of eradication methods.
“It’s good news that the Welsh Government is steering clear of an England-style cull, which has proven a costly distraction to tackling TB, so we welcome the embrace of an alternative approach.
“However, we are concerned by suggestions to adopt alternative methods for managing wildlife, such as a trap/vaccinate/remove management plan for badgers, as we do not feel this method has been demonstrated to be effective at controlling bovine TB, and could lead to badgers being killed unnecessarily.
“We hope supporters of animal welfare across Wales will back our stance, welcoming moves against an England-style cull, and favouring cattle-based measures to tackle this devastating disease.”
If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 and one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.