Find more information on the team's bovine TB and badger cull project and research.

Grants and funding

This research was supported by several grants, including from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Managing Bovine Tuberculosis

Research by Prof Robbie McDonald and team has primarily focused on the ecology and epidemiology for control of bTB, including host population characteristics, social structure and transmission of infection and impacts of control measures.

They have ultimately been looking in regard to the development of badger vaccines and of farm biosecurity measures in order to provide a workable solution. The work has led to the licensing of a badger vaccine and the uptake of badger vaccination as key elements to bTB control policy in England. The work has also led to the development of farm biosecurity measures and advice, developed in conjunction with Defra and the Welsh government.

Research by Prof Clare Saunders has looked for a less conflictual way of doing TB policy. The work has sought to bring people together from opposite sides of the bTB debate in order to work together towards a workable solution. By working together, they are encompassing both the social and biological dimensions of the bTB issue, leading to a greater possibility for a workable solution.

Badgers, cattle and tuberculosis therefore present a powerful illustration of a complex system where biological understanding is relatively thorough, but where social conflict compromises effective management. By attempting actively to resolve this conflict among human parties, the continued worsening of the epidemic and the escalation of economic, animal and social costs might be averted. Without this resolution, prospects for controlling bovine tuberculosis in the UK are likely to deteriorate further.

Professor Robbie McDonald

Both Prof Clare Saunders and Prof Robbie McDonald were part of the team that collected views from local people about bovine TB and badgers in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Devon. The aim of the project was to test the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of the chosen method, controlled shooting.