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Badger Cull is Likely
Posted 8 June 2007
The government is expected to announce next week that the ten-year ban on badger culling will be lifted. A report by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB will be published on June 15, and DEFRA ministers are gearing up to announce that a mass cull over a large area may help stop the spread of the disease.
The farming industry has long resisted the idea that its own intensive rearing, breeding and transport practices are at the heart of the bovine TB problem. In fact, exhaustive research demonstrates that cattle movements 'substantially and consistently outweigh' all other factors in spreading bovine TB. Says Martin Hancox, zoologist and former member of the Badgers and Bovine TB Panel: 'TB is appearing in areas that have been TB-free for ten years, sometimes longer. The badgers were there all the time: are they supposed to have sat around for a decade and then one day decided to infect cows.' The key new factor, he points out, was the unregulated countrywide movements of cattle who - because of the BSE and then the foot and mouth crises - were not tested for TB infectivity before being transported.
Since 1975, more than 30,000 badgers have been killed in an attempt to curb TB in cattle. Tests revealed that 80 per cent of the slaughtered animals were free of TB. And despite virtually exterminating badgers from four counties in the republic of Ireland, the incidence of TB there remains twice as high as in Britain.
DEFRA’s recent public consultation about a badger cull received submissions from 47,000 respondents, ninety-five per cent of whom opposed a cull. Despite the evidence and overwhelming public opposition, a badger cull is likely.