Category Archives: Alternatives

Live Cage-Trapping

Badger caught in trap!

How does it work?

  • Set traps for badgers with bait
  • Check next morning
  • Test for bTB infection
    • If yes, euthanize
    • If no, release (can also vaccinate prior to releasing)


  • Since 6/7 badgers are not infected with bTB, this prevents indiscriminate culling of badgers
  • Prevents maiming that may occur accidentally during free shooting culls


  • Badgers can sustain minor injuries while trapped in a cage, including dental injuries when trying to escape
  • Labour-intensive as would have to set traps and check every morning for badgers

Gassing Setts

Opening to a badger sett

Previously in the 1980s, hydrogen cyanide had been used in trial culls to gas badger setts, which are the animals’ underground dens. However, use of hydrogen cyanide gas was eventually deemed as inhumane and to cause immense suffering in badgers, so was discontinued. Thus a current, proposed alternative to culling by free shooting is to use carbon monoxide to gas badger setts. This method would have a higher effective cull rate compared to free shooting as all the badgers present in the expansive sett would be euthanized through lethal gassing.


  • More effective in badger cull rate than free-shooting


  • Welfare of badgers using this method is untested
  • Do not know if carbon monoxide gassing would cause more suffering compared to free shooting culls

Fertility Control


Research is currently underway by Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) to develop a female oral contraceptive for badgers. Ideally, the contraceptive would be available to female badgers through oral baits and would aid in reducing population growth by preventing these females from reproducing. Mathematical models have predicted that fertility control alone would not be effective in eradicating bTB, but would need to be used in combination with other strategies such as vaccination or culling (Swinton et al., 1997).

This potential alternative is not yet available.


Badger sneaking into cattle housing while foraging for food, as possible route of transmission

While management strategies alone are not likely enough to eradicate bTB, cattle management practices can be used to greatly reduce the probability of badger-to-cattle transmission.

Possible Management Practices:

  • Prevent badgers from accessing cattle housing
    • Keep buildings and gates closed, secured
    • Raising cattle feed off the ground to exclude badger access
  • Rotational grazing system
    • To reduce exposure of cattle to potentially badger-contaminated pasture
  • Fencing off badger setts

Cattle Vaccine?

Currently there is no bTB vaccine available legally for cattle.

While the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine could potentially be used to vaccinate cattle, the current test available to detect bTB known as the Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Tuberculin (SICCT) skin test cannot differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals. Thus, BCG vaccines for cattle are not yet approved by the European Union for use. For now, new diagnostic tests for bTB are being developed, known as the Differentiate Vaccinated from Infected Animals (DIVA) tests. Vaccinations are expected to be available for use once these diagnostic tests are fully approved in cattle, which is estimated to be within the next 10 years.

For more information, see: 

Badger BCG Vaccine

Badger being injected with BCG vaccine after cage-trapped

What is it?

  • Vaccine against bovine tuberculosis for badgers
  • Known as the Badger BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin)
  • Commercially available in 2010, but only available as injection

This video shows how badgers are vaccinated.


  • Do not need to euthanize any wildlife
  • Can reduce risk of bTB-positive badgers, and decrease spread across badger social groups
  • Herd immunity, where enough individuals are protected from bTB by vaccination to prevent entire group from being infected


  • Expensive!!
  • Need to live cage-trap badgers and check cages every morning (labour-intensive)
  • Need to give booster annually for min. 5 years
  • Does not cure infected animals
  • More effective in younger badgers, which are more likely to be hidden in badger setts


  • Estimated over 5 years = £3,365 per vaccinated badger


Vaccinations are the major alternative to badger culling to control bTB. While the use of vaccines is not effective if the animal is already infected, vaccinations are able to provide protective immunity against bTB. This is especially important in limiting the spread of bTB in susceptible populations. The following posts will describe current vaccines available to use for badgers and cattle, effectiveness, and the associated costs.

Alternatives to Free Shooting Cull

no hunting no shooting

Free shooting badger culls, currently used in Britain, is not considered by many scientists and animal rights activists to be the most humane or effective method of controlling bovine tuberculosis. There exists a number of different ways that this disease can potentially be controlled, and may be used in combination with badger culling for increased efficiency:

  • Vaccinations
  • Livestock Management & Surveillance
  • Fertility Control

In addition, alternatives to a free shooting method for culls may involve:

  • Gassing Setts (underground badger dens)
  • Cage Trapping