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Badger cull could increase cattle TB, says study.

Byline: NINA MASSEY

Badger culling could actually be making the problem of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle worse, new research suggests.

The study indicates the practice drives the surviving creatures to cover 61% more land each month than before the cull began.

Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London say this means badgers explore new areas as individuals are removed from neighbouring groups and territories open up.

Published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, the research found the odds of a badger visiting a neighbouring territory after a cull increased 20-fold, potentially increasing the risk of TB transmission to both cattle and other badgers.

Professor Rosie Woodroffe of ZSL's Institute of Zoology, said: "As badgerto-cattle transmission is likely to occur through contamination of their shared environment and TB bacteria can remain viable for long periods of time in the environment, the effects of increases in ranging behaviour could create a source of infection for several months - long after the individual badger has been culled."

"In contrast, studies have shown that vaccination prompts no changes in badgers' ranging behaviour."

The Badger Trust welcomed the findings and called for a move away from culling to vaccination. However, a Defra spokesman said a range of measures was needed to eradicate TB.

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The badger cull is highly controversial

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Author:NINA MASSEY
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 9, 2019
Words:220
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