Posted by: Adrian Colston | June 29, 2010

Badger Timothy J Roper

Badger is the latest offering in the classic  Collins New Naturalist series, written by Professor Timothy J Roper an acknowledged and experienced badger ecologist. This book is an essential read simply because the badger has become and will continue to be a high profile and controversial animal as a result of its association with bovine TB in the south west of Britain.

The book is over 380 pages long and consists of 10 chapters – it incorporates the latest research (of which there has recently been a great deal) on badger ecology. For the general reader though it is the final 36 page chapter on badgers and bovine tuberculosis that will be the focus of their interest.

For most people, even those with only a casual interest in the countryside, bovine TB is seen as a terrible problem which affect tens of thousands of cattle each year. Despite years of research and programmes to eradicate the disease it is still on the increase and is spreading to the north and east of the country from its heartlands in the south west and west Wales.

Chapter 10 of Badgers sets out in a clear and objective way what is known and what is not known about the role that badgers play in helping to transmit  or harbour the TB bacterium to cattle. There are sections on why badgers are implicated in the TB cycle, how the disease is transmitted (is it whilst cattle are in pastures or when they are around farm buildings?), what control measures should be taken, badger culling, the infamous Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT),  vaccination policy and  TB & badgers: the future.

This is a complex topic but if you need you know where the science is with badgers and TB this 36 page summary is what you need. Unless you have a lot of time and are of a scientific bent going back to the original literature (and there are thousands of pages of it) won’t be for you.

Bovine TB regularly features in news items and with the election of a new Government, the imminent badger cull in Pembrokeshire (delayed currently due to legal challenges),  the cancellation of the vaccination trial in Devon (due to budgetary constraints) and the ever rising numbers of infected cattle,  it is likely to be a topic that isn’t going to go away quickly or cheaply.

The final sentence of the book spells out the controversy and the challenge of what to do.

‘However the scientific  case against isolated one-off, spatially restricted culls of limited duration, such as were carried out in the RBCT, is very strong.

The book is available in hardback (Top tip: Collins NN h/b 1st editions are very collectable and fetch high prices when they go out of print) or paperback.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: