Badger cull update

Monday 19 October 2009, 11:10

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

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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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    "Over the border in England, they've been culling badgers for the last 10 years"

    Factually incorrect. Badger culling has not been English policy for more than 10 years.
    What they did do a number of years ago is cull badgers in trial areas for a total of five years. These trials ended four years ago, since which no badgers have been culled.
    This research showed that reducing badger numbers by around 80% reduced incidences of TB in cattle by an average of 23% during the culling period. Following the badger removal bTB incidences continued to fall by more than half (54%). Even incidences on farms bordering the culling areas fell by 23%.

    "Are badgers responsible for bovine TB? The jury is still out on that one, depending on who you talk to."

    Try talking to vets and scientists. The answer is yes. The question is 'how much are they responsible for'. The work described above indicates that at least 54% (more than half) of cattle bTB in the culling trial areas came, directly or indirectly, from badgers.

    The BBC should get its facts straight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Thanks for your comment Islwyn.

    I've consulted with the Welsh Assembly Government and Farmers Union of Wales and the blog has been revised to take on board the views and findings of all concerned parties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    In the cull area itself there is wide opposition to this proposal. Anyone living in Wales should immediately contact their own AM to vote to annul the TB Eradication Order, debate will sometime from 4 November. All AMs can be contacted as well, further information is on this website:

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Against this proposal to cull.
    In response to Islwyn18, the randomised badger cullig trail in britain did not provide solid evidence for badger culling. Though 23% reduction was seen in proactive culling areas, 2km outside these boundaries had an increase of 25% TB incidence, therefore benefits were outweighed by disadvantages. Moreover, reactive culling was stopped before the trial was due to finish as incidence went up by 20% compared to survey-only control areas.
    This is proof that culling results in increased badger movement where badgers remain, spreading the disease.

    Also it is important to point out that only 11% of badgers culled in the RBCT had TB at postmortem, cattle-to-cattle transmission is the main way this disease is spread.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    im disgusted with all concerned with this culling horror
    why not just let badger baiting be legal ?
    can we all join in ? can we all shoot one .
    or give us a choice at least
    can i shoot a cow ? or someone i see killing badgers ?
    the only badgers i ever see , are dead on side of the road ..
    you people who kill the badgers , i cant say what i would like to happen to you , your farms , familys ,
    id cull you lot .
    if this was america , i would have a gun and i would be waiting for you
    and the so called badger protecters ? where are you ?
    what are you doing ?
    farmers , just buy a new cow ,
    whos goin to buy a new badger
    or do we let them go extinct ?
    cows are only walking burgers after all .
    badgers are


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