History of bTB in Great Britain

Pre 1960s – Height of infection:

  • Up to 40% bTB infected cattle in 1930s (Reynolds, 2006)
  • Lack of milk pasteurization = 40,000 human infections annually
  • Implementation of movement restrictions and voluntary cattle testing in 1947

1960s – Reduced levels due to cattle testing:

  • Compulsory cattle testing further drops bTB levels significantly

1970s – First badger culls:

  • Badgers discovered to be infected with bTB in 1971
  • Trial badger culls begun in 1975 through hydrogen cyanide gassing of setts (Lodge and Matus, 2014)
  • Hydrogen cyanide gassing eventually considered inhumane -> switch to live cage trapping and shooting

1990s – Increasing bTB infections & Krebs Report:

  • Rapid increase in new cases, correlated with Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak as replacement herds may have been infected with bTB
  • Krebs Report (1997) find link between badger and cattle infection, but actual risk not quantified
  • Development of government Five Point Plan to control bTB

1997 to 2008 – Randomized Badger Culling Trials (RBCT):

  • Found culling ineffective over long term, unless occurs over large areas of land
  • Due to findings, government does not proceed with culling policy in 2008

2010 – A new government, a new policy:

  • Farmers allowed to cull badgers for min. 4 years (controversial decision)
  • Culling delayed until 2013 due to unknown badger populations and lack of police to regulate culling

2013 to present – Free shooting culls:

  • Trial culling by free shooting
  • Minimum cull numbers not reached in pilot areas in Somerset and Gloucestshire
  • No evidence of effectiveness but culls to be continued anyway…

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