New research has prompted Humane Society International UK (HSI) to once again voice its objection to the culling of badgers.

A new paper published in the journal PNAS suggests even small-scale badger culling might increase rather than reduce the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), and HSI UK claims the study indicates social stability in badger populations mitigates against disease spread, therefore farmers should be protecting, not persecuting, badgers on their land.

The animal protection charity has now urged farmers across England to reject badger culling and become badger-friendly instead, because, it claims, protecting the species is one of the best ways of mitigating the risk of infection spreading.

Mark Jones, executive director of HSI UK said: “This new research confirms what we, and countless experts, have been saying for years, that killing badgers is not an effective way of controlling TB in cattle, and could indeed make things worse, not better, for farmers.

“This is another huge blow to Defra’s plans to slaughter England’s badgers this summer and demonstrates yet again the Government’s badger cull policy simply isn’t supported by the science and must be abandoned. It’s time now for farmers to recognise that leaving badgers alone while they get their own farming industry practices in order, is the best thing they can do to stem the tide of cattle TB infection.

“So we urge farmers to make a fresh start and pledge to be badger-friendly by protecting, not persecuting, badgers on their land. If they don’t, they may well be condemning themselves and their neighbours to an even worse cattle TB future.”

The PNAS paper looks at the impact of changes in badger behaviour that result from culling-induced perturbation.

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