Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options

Steven P. McCulloch, Michael J. Reiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB) is an important and controversial animal health policy issue in England, which impacts humans, cattle and badgers. The government policy of badger culling has led to widespread opposition, in part due to the conclusions of a large field trial recommending against culling, and in part because badgers are a cherished wildlife species. Animal rights (AR) theorists argue that sentient nonhumans should be accorded fundamental rights against killing and suffering. In bovine TB policy, however, pro-culling actors claim that badgers must be culled to avoid the slaughter of cattle. The first part of the paper compares AR theories of Regan, Francione, Cochrane, Garner and Donaldson and Kymlicka in the context of wildlife species. The second part of the paper applies these AR theories to bovine TB and badger control. AR theories are applied to badger control policy options of (1) do nothing, (2) badger culling, and (3) badger vaccination. We conclude that AR theories are strongly opposed to badger culling. In general, culling is prohibited due to a badger's right to life and its rights against suffering. The AR theories support a do-nothing, i.e. non-culling, non-vaccination approach to badger control. In the case of the AR theories of Regan and Francione, this is based on abolitionist positions with respect to farming. For Cochrane, Garner, and Donaldson and Kymlicka, the do-nothing policy option is preferred because badger vaccination causes a degree of suffering which generally is not for the individual's benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-550
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Volume30
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2017

Keywords

  • Animal health and welfare policy
  • Animal rights
  • Badgerculling
  • Badger vaccination
  • Bovine tuberculosis
  • Ethical analysis

Cite this

McCulloch, S. P., & Reiss, M. J. (2017). Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 30(4), 535-550.
McCulloch, Steven P. ; Reiss, Michael J. / Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options. In: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 2017 ; Vol. 30, No. 4. pp. 535-550.
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McCulloch, SP & Reiss, MJ 2017, 'Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options', Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 535-550.

Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options. / McCulloch, Steven P.; Reiss, Michael J.

In: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 30, No. 4, 24.08.2017, p. 535-550.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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McCulloch SP, Reiss MJ. Bovine Tuberculosis and Badger Culling in England: An Animal Rights-Based Analysis of Policy Options. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics. 2017 Aug 24;30(4):535-550.