Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) affects a number of animals, mostly notably, cattle and badgers. The disease and efforts to control it have serious economic implications for both farmers and the Welsh Government. The RSPCA fully supports the objective to eradicate bTB from Wales - but we remain opposed to the culling of wildlife as a means of controlling Bovine TB in cattle.
The RSPCA is opposed, in principle, to the taking or killing of any wild animal or the infliction of suffering upon them. Exceptions to this principle are dependent on an assessment of the evidence and whether there are alternative methods of resolving problems. In relation to bovine TB, where there is clearly a disease problem on farms, the RSPCA argues that a range of cattle measures combined with vaccinating badgers is the more appropriate way of addressing the problem. This is why we strongly support the Welsh Government's current strategy which includes both elements including a badger vaccination trial area in South West Wales.
For vaccination in badgers to be successful in tackling bTB in cattle, the programme needs to be expanded across large areas of Wales, which clearly has a significant and potentially prohibitive financial element for the Government. To this end we urge large-scale landowners in Wales to consider partnerships to access the resources, training and experience on offer from the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government announced a 'refreshed' approach to the eradication of Bovine TB 2017, following a consultation - and the RSPCA hope this evidence based approach will continue in the Sixth Senedd.