Badger cull update

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Recent news from the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales:

"Elin Jones Rural Affairs Minister has announced that the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 under the Animal Health Act 1981 would come into force on 21st October, and that the only procedure that would stop it was a 40-day period in which Assembly Members could propose a motion that the Order be annulled".

"On 14th October, two Assembly members Peter Black (Lib Dem) and Lorraine Barratt (Labour) proposed a motion to annul the Order which will be debated shortly".

For those interested, the Badger Trust have produced a document setting out their argument against the culling of badgers and argues that it is actually modern methods of farming - large herd sizes and stock movements that have led to a rise in bovine TB cases here in Wales.

Similar experimental culls in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have had mixed results. Apparently Northern Ireland had a similar rate of bovine TB to Wales just four years ago but have virtually halved it without killing a single badger.

Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland, where they've been culling thousands of badgers - bovine TB is still a real problem.

The Farmers Union Of Wales point out that there is actually very little difference between NI and Wales' bovine TB policies regarding cattle.

They point to the Royal Society 2008 findings which analysed cattle movement data in order to study the spread of TB in Great Britain.

The studies indicated that cattle movements are likely to be responsible for just 16% of herd outbreaks and concluded that "High-risk spread is probably the result of cattle/badger/BTB interaction". Read the FUW Bovine and TB factsheet.

The Welsh Assembly considered 3 options - a non selective badger cull, vaccination of badgers or a combined strategy but opted for the cull as it was considered the best way to reduce bovine TB.

Dealing with badgers is one element of the Welsh Assembly Government's programme to eradicate bovine TB.

They have also intensified their cattle testing regime, are consulting on legislation on tightening up pre-movement testing and implementing additional cattle measures in the area where the cull would take place (if it happens).

This option is currently under consideration from the Rural Affairs Minister and a decision will be made shortly. Read about what the Welsh Assembly Government is doing to tackle TB in cattle.

So are badgers responsible for bovine TB?

Scientists do now agree that badgers carry the disease but how much of it is transferred from badger to cattle and cattle to cattle and how best to combat the spread is still to be agreed upon.

Visit the links below and make up your own minds.

I'd love to hear your comments - for or against, on this contentious issue.

Powers sought for badger cull - BBC News Online

Welsh Assembly Government - Bovine TB

FUW - Badgers and Bovine TB

Badgers Trust Cymru

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