Assessing effects from four years of industry-led badger culling in England on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, 2013-2017
The objective was to measure the association between badger culling and bovine tuberculosis (TB) incidents in cattle herds in three areas of England between 2013-2017 (Gloucestershire and Somerset) and 2015-2017 (Dorset). Farming industry-selected licensed culling areas were matched to comparison areas. A TB incident was detection of new Mycobacterium bovis infection (post-mortem confirmed) in at least one animal in a herd. Intervention and comparison area incidence rates were compared in central zones where culling was conducted and surrounding buffer zones, through multivariable Poisson regression analyses. Central zone incidence rates in Gloucestershire (Incidence rate ratio (IRR) 0.34 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.39, p < 0.001) and Somerset (IRR 0.63 (95% CI 0.58 to 0.69, p < 0.001) were lower and no different in Dorset (IRR 1.10, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.27, p = 0.168) than comparison central zone rates. The buffer zone incidence rate was lower for Gloucestershire (IRR 0.64, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.70, p < 0.001), no different for Somerset (IRR 0.97, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.16, p = 0.767) and lower for Dorset (IRR 0.45, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.54, p < 0.001) than comparison buffer zone rates. Industry-led culling was associated with reductions in cattle TB incidence rates after four years but there were variations in effects between areas.