Paper of the week: badgers and TB

Paper of the week this week is Donnelly et al (2006) Positive and negative effects of widespread badger culling on tuberculosis in cattle. Nature 439: 843-846

This paper, plus recent modellings efforts concerning the control of Bovine TB, continues to highlight the difficulties both scientists and policy-makers face when the biology of a given situation is a bit complicated. In this case, badger culling is neither wholly good nor wholly bad, and there are good biological reasons for this (badger social interactions primarily). And we should not necessarily expect easy answers when it comes to ecosystem-level questions. This does not mean that the science should be ignored though, and recent moves by policy-makers across the UK in terms of badgers and bovine TB risks marginalising the evidence-base. This would be a backward step.

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