Badger Meles meles
The European Badger (Meles meles) is a species of badger of the genus Meles, native to almost all of Europe. It is classed as Least Concern for extinction by the IUCN, due to its wide distribution and large population.
The European badger is a social burrowing animal which lives on a wide variety of plant and animal food. It is very fussy over the cleanliness of its burrow, and defecates in latrines. Cases are known of European badgers burying their dead family members. Although ferocious when provoked, a trait which was once exploited for the blood sport of badger-baiting, the European badger is generally a peaceful animal, having been known to share its burrows with other species such as rabbits, red foxes and raccoon dogs. Although it does not usually prey on domestic stock, the species is nonetheless credited with damaging livestock through spreading bovine tuberculosis.
Bovine TB: Badgers and bTB
Bovine TB is predominantly a disease of cattle but can affect a range of species; there is a significant reservoir of infection in badgers. The disease is transmitted between cattle, between badgers, and between the two species.
Cattle measures will continue to be central to our bovine TB control programme but we will not succeed in eliminating the disease in cattle unless we also tackle the disease in badgers. No other country in the world with a similar reservoir in wildlife has eradicated TB from cattle without stringent wildlife control measures.
The Coalition Government has committed, as part of a package of measures, to developing affordable options for a carefully-managed and science-led policy of badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine TB. We have launched a consultation on on the Government’s proposed approach to badger control in England.
We propose issuing licences to farmers/landowners who wish to cull and/or vaccinate badgers at their own expense. These culling licenses would be subject to strict licence criteria to ensure badger control is done effectively, humanely and with high regard for animal welfare. This consultation will run until 8 December 2010.
As part of Defra’s commitment to tackling the issue of bovine TB (bTB), Government has invested in a significant research programme looking into the development of vaccines for both cattle and badgers. More information on vaccination is available here.
There are many campaigns to halt to cull. A long standing cull has been taking place in Ireland for many years from what I understand and although TB in cattle has went down slightly it does not equate to the amount of badgers that have been killed.