Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Wales To Push Ahead With Badger Cull

The following article is from Farmers Guardian. The article can be found here

Wales to push ahead with badger cull
20 September 2010 By Alistair Driver

THE Welsh assembly Government is to push ahead with plans for a badger cull, Welsh Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has announced.

She is publishing a new draft Order that will pave the way for a cull over five years in west Wales. The new Order has been drafted to overcome the flaws that saw the original Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009, which would have permitted culling to begin this summer, thrown out in July after the Court of Appeal ruled it was unlawful.

While the original Order applied to the whole of Wales, the new draft order is specific to the proposed Intensive Action Area, covering north Pembrokeshire and including areas of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. This part of Wales has one of the highest bovine TB rates in Europe.

WAG has also increased its estimate of the likely benefits of a cull. It said it expected to have reduced bovine TB in cattle in the area by approximately 22 per cent, preventing an estimated 83 confirmed herd breakdowns that would otherwise have occurred.

It stressed that was a ‘conservative estimate’. The additional surveillance and controls on cattle that the Assembly Government has already put in place in the Intensive Action Area are designed to generate further reductions, Ms Jones said.

There are 321 cattle farms in the Intensive Action Area and nearly 70 per cent of them have been affected by bovine TB in the past seven years. Under the proposals, there would be an annual cull of badgers over a five year period.

The Assembly Government’s ‘comprehensive package’ also includes enhanced cattle surveillance and controls, as well as improved biosecurity on farms.

Announcing the development on a farm: Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said: “I remain committed to tackling the bovine TB crisis in Wales. It is a situation that I cannot and will not allow to continue.

“I will state again that the cost of this disease in the last ten years, when nearly 100,000 cattle have been slaughtered in Wales, is more than £120 million. This is tax payer’s money the Assembly Government has paid out to farmers in compensation.

“Most experts agree that badgers play an important role in the transmission of bovine TB and that we will not eradicate TB if we do not tackle the disease in both wildlife and cattle.”

She added that the evidence shows, through a number of trials that reducing the numbers of badgers in TB endemic areas can reduce TB in cattle.

Ms Jones said: “Our critics claim that vaccination of badgers is the answer. Vaccination of badgers has not yet been proved to reduce cattle TB and does not cure badgers that already have TB. It does not provide complete protection; rather it reduces the progress of the disease in a vaccinated badger, and the risk of onward spread of infection to other badgers and cattle. Vaccination cannot resolve this problem on its own.

“I am satisfied that in the Intensive Action Area there is no reasonably practicable or satisfactory alternative to culling badgers as a means of reducing TB in cattle. This is because it is the only proven method currently available to me.”

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