There is no evidence to show that mass badger culling in the UK prevents bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, according to research carried out by animal-welfare organisation, Born Free.

The organisation is now calling for an immediate end to the culling of badgers owing to findings that it says proves that culling is not linked to any reduction in the levels of bovine TB in cattle herds.

The peer-reviewed research, published (March 18, 2022) in the scientific journal Veterinary Record, stated that the killing of 140,000 badgers has cost the state millions, and saved nothing.

Badgers have been shot on mass in designated ‘high-risk’ areas of the west and southwest of England since 2013, as part of a government effort to control the spread of the disease.

However, Born Free examined all published government data and used a range of methods to compare the incidence and prevalence of bovine TB in the culled and unculled areas within the high-risk region.

Following analysis, it concluded that although the rate of disease peaked and declined during the study period, the rate of the decline in bovine TB was no different in areas where badgers were being shot, versus the areas where no culling was taking place.

As a result of this, the study claims the reduction in the areas where culling is taking place is down to the introduction of cattle-based measures such as movement controls and more intensive testing requirements.

The current culling practices are set to continue until 2025 and beyond according to the organisation, which is calling on the government to make the findings of its research widely available and bring the practice to an end.

Co-author of the report and head of policy at Born Free, Dr. Mark Jones said:

“There is no justification for killing any more badgers. It’s time to bring this unscientific, inhumane and unnecessary badger culling policy to an immediate and permanent end.

“To justify the licensed killing of many thousands of legally protected badgers, the government should, at the very least, be able to demonstrate a substantial disease-control benefit,” he said.