Bovine TB is primarily an infectious disease of cattle. It is also a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread to other mammals including humans. However, it does not pose a significant threat to human health in countries where milk is pasteurised and routine inspection is carried out on slaughtered cattle. Nonetheless, bTB has proven to be a difficult disease to control in Ireland and Great Britain and comes with a high financial and emotional cost to those affected.

It also comes at a cost to our wildlife, especially badgers. Hundreds of thousands of badgers have already been culled in Ireland and Great Britain in a futile attempt to control bovine TB. The vast majority of  these are healthy and pose no risk to cattle. The role of badgers in the aetiology of the disease is uncertain and conclusive evidence of badger to cattle transmission remains elusive.

‘The exact means of spread between the species and the relative importance of potential routes of infection have not been established. The proportion of the disease in cattle that can be directly attributed to badgers has not been quantified.’

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs

The badger group doesn’t just care about badgers. Our members care about the emotional and financial hardship that bovine TB brings to farming families. We care about the 1000’s of cattle slaughtered every year and we care about the cost to the tax-payer. We oppose badger culling because it will not reduce bovine TB in cattle.

Culling is a waste of scarce public funds and distracts from the challenge of addressing the undetected reservoir of bovine TB in Northern Ireland herds. The consensus of expert opinion firmly concludes that badger culling is ineffective in controlling the spread of TB and that better herd testing and infection control measures are the most effective way of tackling the disease.

The badger group has worked tirelessly to engage with stakeholders in a constructive and respectful manner. Our policy continues to be informed by independent veterinary and scientific experts, some of whom are former government advisors.

It is in everyone’s interest to develop and deploy an effective evidence-led bovine TB strategy in Northern Ireland. A badger cull will damage the image of Northern Ireland farming and alienate consumers at a time when the industry faces unprecedented challenges. Farmers deserve better.

Read more about badgers and bovine TB here

Bovine TB