Vets tell election candidates to consider badger cull

British vets are calling on prospective Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish lawmakers to revise existing bovine TB controls to include the “targeted and humane” culling of badgers.

Ahead of national elections on 6 May, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) – supported by branches in each of the countries – has launched three manifestos detailing preferred action for animal health and welfare.

Sent to all candidates standing for election in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the manifestos include around 20 policy recommendations each, including suggestions on the eradication of bovine TB.

Incoming Welsh and Northern Irish Assembly members are urged to review TB eradication programmes to include “the targeted and humane culling of badgers, by means of cage trapping and shooting only, in areas where bovine TB is endemic and the wildlife reservoir is significant in the [spread of the disease].”

See also: More than 36,000 TB-infected cattle slaughtered in 2015

Meanwhile it challenges the next Scottish Parliament to “maintain a comprehensive approach to tackling bovine TB… to ensure that Scotland remains disease free and retains its official tuberculosis free status.”

In the manifestos, which were also sent to chief veterinary officers and honorary MPs, MEPs and peers, BVA also calls on the new governments to:

  • Protect animal welfare by requiring all animals to be stunned before slaughter and label meat accordingly so consumers can make an informed decision
  • Introduce mandatory CCTV use in all approved slaughterhouses to help meet animal welfare requirements
  • Support vets and farmers in combating endemic livestock diseases through, for example, bovine viral diarrhoea eradication schemes (established in Scotland and Northern Ireland, proposed in Wales)
  • Continue to support the One Health joint approach on human and animal antibiotic use, sale and resistance in the UK
  • Lobby in Europe to protect the vet’s right to prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines.

“The UK prides itself on high, continuously improving animal welfare standards and voters care deeply about animal health and welfare issues, so we urge the incoming national governments to include this in their agendas and champion the concept of One Health in recognition of the inextricable links between animals, humans, and our shared living environment,” said Sean Wensley, president of the BVA.

“Through our daily work, and these manifestos, we believe vets are in a unique position from which to offer the next governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales evidence-based and informed advice and policy recommendations.”