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Science, media, policy and wildlife: the badger/bovine TB controversy

Dr Angela Cassidy (ESRC/RELU Research Fellow), School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Wednesday 25 May 2011, 1200-1300
Bowland Nth SR 17

A LEC/Centre for Science Studies Seminar

To be held in Bowland North Seminar Room 17

Debates over whether to cull wild badgers to help manage bovine TB in domestic cattle have been ongoing since the 1970s, when infections in the two species were first linked, and badgers became a highly protected wildlife species. In the hope of resolving the controversy, policymakers turned to science, commissioning a huge field based experiment: the Randomised Badger Culling Trial. However, the findings of the RBCT are contested and subject to varying interpretations, leaving badger culling as controversial as ever.

This talk will give an overview of my RELU fellowship research programme investigating the badger/bTB controversy, and will address two related questions:

i) Why have proposals to cull badgers provoked such intense controversy in the first place?

ii) How has the issue been covered in the mass media, and what are the implications for broader science-policy relationships?