Badger culls and veterinary conduct

6 November 2013

We would like to respond to recent press coverage and correspondence regarding the role of the Chief Veterinary Officer and his colleagues in the pilot badger culls, which aim to reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis.

The publically available information about the two culls indicates that Defra will test its assumptions about the “effectiveness (in terms of badger removal), humaneness and safety of culling” and that the culling will be “closely monitored... and the monitoring overseen by an independent panel of experts, who have advised on the appropriate methods of monitoring effectiveness and humaneness.”

On this basis, while some may not agree with the culls, or the manner in which they are conducted, provided that any veterinary surgeon involved – whether in terms of devising the cull strategy or working on the ground – has acted reasonably, he or she should be able to comply with the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, which sets out the five principles of practice as: 

  1. Professional competence
  2. Honesty and integrity
  3. Independence and impartiality
  4. Client confidentiality and trust
  5. Professional accountability

We would also like to point out that all veterinary surgeons practising in the UK are members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, but that the views of individual members do not necessarily reflect those of the College and that we have not, in fact, taken a view on the effectiveness of the cull as it is outwith our remit to do so.

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