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Mixed Group Responses To Bager Cull Plans

15 December 2011

UK - There has been mixed responses across groups and unions in the UK in response to the governments announcement of plans to go ahead with two pilot badger culls.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Peter Kendall has said Defra's decision to commit to two pilot areas for badger controls as part of its plan to tackle bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is the right way forward.

He said: “This is another massive step forward in achieving our end goal of a healthy countryside – both for badgers and for cattle. I commend Defra for introducing these two pilot areas to confirm the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of controlled shooting."

“We must tackle this terrible disease, a disease that sees tens of thousands of cattle destroyed each and every year. The most recent science shows badger controls are absolutely necessary, together with cattle controls, to get on top of TB. No other country in the world has successfully tackled this devastating disease without first addressing the reservoir of TB in the wildlife.

“However, I want to remind everyone this has never been about eradicating badgers; this is about eradicating disease. And there are some serious challenges ahead. But we take this issue extremely seriously and we remain committed to working with Defra and Natural England to deliver an effective TB control plan. This has never been and will not be a quick fix and we’re fully prepared for that.

“Controlling TB in the areas that have high and persistent disease levels will help to save cattle and reduce the risk of TB in other areas of the country that are currently without TB. That has to be in everyone’s best interests.”

The Badger Trust however stated it was ‘very disappointed’ over the cull decision.

David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust said: "We are clearly very disappointed by this decision but now that it has been made, we will be studying it with our legal advisors to determine what action we shall take."

Veterinary Associations have given their full support to Defra’s announcement.

Carl Padgett, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “This is a major step on the long road to tackling this devastating disease."

“The BVA and BCVA have always argued that measures to tackle bovine TB must be based on science. We know that badger culling does reduce the infection in cattle – this is undisputed science.

“However, the existing science doesn’t tell us whether controlled shooting can achieve the level of badger removal necessary to reduce the level of infection in cattle. We therefore welcome the announcement of these pilots to determine the efficacy and humaneness of this method.”

Andrew Praill, President of British Cattle Veterinary Association, added: “Any intervention in bovine TB takes time to show an effect due to the chronic nature of the disease and we need all the tools in the toolbox at our disposal.

“That is why we are giving our full support to the pilots."

National Beef Association Chairman, Hamish McBean, said: “While it is with regret that some badgers will be removed, populations have exploded in many parts of the UK and it is impossible for the cattle industry to get a grip of TB without looking at the wildlife element too.

“Farmers want to see badgers on their farm and the NBA believes these control measures will ensure those badgers are healthy, which will also ensure a healthy and thriving cattle population too.”

“While the six week pilot culls are a step in the right direction, being realistic, it will take a very long time for England to return to its virtual TB free status of the 1960s,” RABDF Chairman David Cotton said adding: “We would encourage the Welsh government to listen to Defra, and without delay introduce a similar carefully managed cull policy which has to be in the best interests of all cattle for the long term future.”

The Farmers' Union of Wales urged the Welsh Government to forge ahead with plans to tackle the disease in north Pembrokeshire after welcoming Defra's announcement.

Further Reading

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