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Cull of badgers could start this weekend

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

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The controversial pilot cull of badgers in the South West could begin as early as this weekend, but officials and organisers are remaining tight-lipped about plans.

The Government has given permission for the six-week test cull in the bovine tuberculosis hotspot area around Tewkesbury in west Gloucestershire. A licence has also been granted in West Somerset, though that is not likely to start yet.

The culls have to be over by the New Year, when the badger breeding season begins.

The cull to tackle bovine TB will be a "contribution towards bearing down on the disease", said Farms Minister David Heath, Lib Dem MP for Somerton and Frome in Somerset. "Nothing would please me more than to move to a vaccination programme to eradicate this disease," he said, but acknowledged it was "still a few years away yet".

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He maintained the cull was "nothing to do with any political considerations" and was about dealing effectively with a devastating disease.

He added: "If I wanted to be popular I would not be talking about killing little black and white creatures that everybody loves. This is simply a response to a devastating disease, doing so in the most effective way in terms of the science and the evidence that we have."

The pilot culls in the two chosen areas would potentially see between 500 and 800 badgers killed, he said.

Mr Heath's comments came after Lord Krebs, who ran the last badger-cull trial, questioned the scientific support for it. He told the BBC: "People certainly have cherry-picked results to try to get the argument that they want. I'm not very impressed by the current policy."

Wildlife campaigners and opponents believe culls do not have a significant effect on tackling the disease in livestock.

Responding, Mr Heath said: "The scientific support we have suggests that a cull of the sort that we are proposing would be a contribution towards bearing down on the disease.

"It's not the answer in itself. There are lots of other things that we have to do. We have to continually improve bio-security, we have to continually make sure that we reduce cattle-to-cattle infection, but as part of a toolbox of things that we can do, this is certainly an effective part."

Mr Heath said the pilot culls would take place "probably very soon indeed". He added: "This is an absolutely devastating disease with 26,000 cattle slaughtered last year. The fact is that while nobody wants to see a single badger killed, there isn't a single country in this world that's actually borne down effectively on bovine TB without doing something about the reservoir in the wild population."

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  • happygutz  |  October 15 2012, 11:41AM


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  • Chunder123  |  October 14 2012, 11:28PM

    I'm sure somebody somewhere will be making a great deal of profit from this in some way or form. I don't generally trust alot of what i see on the news. THey don't need to kill them but could relocate them. T there are other ways to deal with this. ALso more than 26,000 cattle are slaughtered each year for food which ends up sitting on supermarket shelves and just gets thrown away due to no sale. Its also been noted that cattle at slaughter houses are forced to live in filthy conditions and many people raise concern why this is never seen as a health risk to the cattle. I don't think these people are smart enough to realize that forcing animals to live in filthy overcrowded conditions encourages diseases. Surely these slaughter houses should be stopped. imagine if you are born into one in the next life. THe species won't last in that environment much longer. some poor individual will be born as a cow in the next life and have to endure these demons who operate the slaughter houses. I think our government are devil worshipers

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  • globalloon  |  October 14 2012, 11:03PM

    one solution could be good animal husbandry; it is obviously very poor if 90,000 cattle are dying because of mastitis

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 14 2012, 11:02PM

    pps. I will say goodnight as I have to leave this subject now for a couple of days as I have other research and another report to do for next week.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 14 2012, 11:00PM

    Globalloon...... This is just one group...... but it wouldn't matter how many scientists throughout the world where TB has been controlled by culling wildlife, in addition to farmed/domestic animals, badgerists just won't listen. I just don't know what it is in this country, other countries don't have this obsession with wildlife. Don't get me wrong, I am a naturalist myself but I want a healthy countryside, not a countryside where animals are suffering with this horrible disease. ps Those scientists in the piece I commented on are contolling the TB in their countries. We aren't, therefore, however eminent our scientists are, they haven't yet come up with the ideal solution.

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  • globalloon  |  October 14 2012, 10:08PM

    ladybugs to you have any scientific reasons for why culling will control TB and that counter the empirical findings of those scientists I mentioned? The report you quote from is a policy document, not research

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 14 2012, 9:45PM

    Actually, I find it very sad that it has had to come to this. Perhaps if we can get on top TB now it can then be controlled, properly, for the future wellbeing of ALL our wildlife, farmed animals, domestic animals and humans .

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  • omnivore23  |  October 14 2012, 8:13PM

    http://tinyurl.com/9mtqhb3 there you go ladybugs - it's six years old mind

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 14 2012, 7:00PM

    A EUROPEAN task force of scientific experts has criticised the Welsh Government's decision to vaccinate rather than cull badgers to control bovine TB, the Farmers' Union of Wales has revealed. The FUW says a report by the European Commission's bTB sub-group – comprising veterinary experts from across the European Union – states: "There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that badger vaccination will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle. "However, there is considerable evidence to support the removal of badgers in order to improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle." According to the report, UK politicians "must accept their responsibility to their own farmers and taxpayers as well as to the rest of the European Union and commit to a long-term strategy that is not dependent on elections". It also states: "The Welsh eradication plan will lose some impetus as badger culling will now be replaced with badger vaccination. "This was not part of the original strategy that consisted of a comprehensive plan that has now been disrupted." The FUW claims the report's conclusions confirm that Wales' TB eradication programme has been severely compromised and reflects what the union has been saying regarding badger culling for the past decade. FUW TB spokesman, Carmarthen dairy farmer Brian Walters, said: "More than five years ago, the FUW wrote to the European Commission to highlight these concerns and asked that Europe properly analyse the science and take a robust approach to the UK's failure to tackle TB in badgers. "At last, the scientific experts have not only come out and supported what we have been saying all along but they have also effectively slammed the Welsh Government for making policies based upon elections, rather than tackling disease.

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  • globalloon  |  October 14 2012, 6:36PM

    Ladybugs where's the science to back up your opinion? I have no particular axe to grind on this issue, but I have to say I'm inclined to believe those I've already mentioned as they are the most senior - if you have scientific reasons why Krebs research is faulty please can you offer them here?

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