Reductions in new outbreaks of bovine TB have been recorded in Gloucestershire and Somerset following the completion of a licensed four-year badger cull.
The data published showed a decline in TB incidence in the first two cull areas with the rate of new confirmed breakdowns now at about half the level it was before culling began. In the Gloucestershire cull area, TB incidence has fallen from 10.4% before culling started to 5.6% in year four of the cull, while in Somerset it has reduced from 24% to 12%.
The findings are in line with expectations based on evidence from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial which underpins the approach to tackling bovine TB. It demonstrated that progress is being made in delivering the 25-year TB eradication strategy in England to rid farmers of the “impacts of the terrible disease”.
In a further move to strengthen the government’s 25-year TB eradication strategy, the minister of state has also announced the opening of a new round of applications for Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme grants.
Farming minister George Eustice said: “[The] figures showing reductions in TB cases in Somerset and Gloucestershire are evidence that our strategy for dealing with this slow moving, insidious disease is delivering results.
“Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK. There is no single measure that will provide an easy answer which is why we are committed to pursuing a wide range of interventions to protect the future of our dairy and beef industries and eradicate the disease within 20 years.”