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Bovine TB: Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT)

The purpose of the trial

The trial, which was designed by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), investigated how bTB spread between cattle, badgers and other wildlife.

The trial began in 1998 and ended early 2006.

The treatments

The trial took place in 30 areas of approximately 100km2. These were in parts of the country that historically had a large number of bTB cases in cattle and were areas of increased bTB risk.

The areas were grouped into 10 sets of three, known as 'triplets'. One of the following treatments was randomly allocated to each area:

How the treatments were arranged within a triplet:

Reactive: badgers were culled on and around farms following bTB outbreaks but not elsewhere.
Proactive: as many badgers as possible were culled in the whole area and badger numbers were kept as low as possible.
Survey: no badgers were culled but the land was surveyed for details of badger activity.

Impact on badgers

The trial did not endanger badger populations. There are over 300,000 badgers in Great Britain. Just under 11,000 were culled in the trial.

There was a three month closed season from February to April to protect female badgers with dependent cubs.

Further information about the trial and the scientific information and results emerging from it is available in the ISG’s Final Report (2.5 MB).


Further information about badgers is available on the Natural England website.


Page last modified: 17 June 2008

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs