The RSPCA is urging the government to scrap the badger cull and introduce a more effective strategy to tackle bovine TB based on cattle movement controls, better biosecurity, new tests and vaccinations.

The charity’s call comes in the face of official data from 2016 which shows that only 5% (46) of 994 culled badger carcasses tested were confirmed to be carrying the disease.

Concerned for both the welfare and health of cattle as well as badgers, the RSPCA believes spending scarce funds on methods such as investing in new tests and vaccination would better protect cows, as well as prevent badgers suffering unnecessarily.

Adam Grogan, Head of the RSPCA’s wildlife department said: “While we agree that bovine TB must be tackled, culling badgers is not the answer. The government’s own data showing such low infection rates of badger carcasses from the cull zones speaks for itself and just highlights the pointlessness of the current official policy for eradicating TB.

“It’s high time the badger cull was scrapped, and for scarce funds to be spent instead on alternative methods such as stricter controls on the movement of cattle, increased levels of cattle testing, more widespread use of new tests, improved biosecurity, and vaccination of both badgers and cattle to stop the spread of this devastating disease.”

The RSPCA has also spoken out about the recent announcement to extend the cull into Cumbria, a low-risk area. The charity believes that Cumbrian badgers will now pay the price for poor cattle testing and movement policies, when cattle imported from Northern Ireland brought bTB to the area. There is also concern that the new Cumbrian badger cull licence will have similar results to the reactive culls seen in the Randomised Badger Cull Trials (RBCT) which were shown not to work and even make the bTB issue worse.