Badger cull may widen to slow TB
Guardian - Thursday 4
By James Meikle
Britain is facing a battle over
badgers as Government considers a huge expansion in culling
programmes to try to slow the spread of tuberculosis through
England's dairy and beef farms.
Ministers risk confrontation with
conservationists to stem the tide of a disease hitting as many as
800 farms at any one time.
Farmers' leaders warn that the
cattle industry, already reeling from BSE, faces another financial
crisis as livestock are slaughtered and restrictions are placed on
But badger support groups, which
are already trying to stop a more limited cull through a European
wildlife treaty, warned that wider slaughter of the protected
species would be a public relations disaster. They said there was
still no absolute proof that badgers were responsible for the rise
of TB in cattle.
Nick Brown, Minister of
Agriculture, told the National Farmers' Union of his concern about
the spread of TB from the West country. "It is a serious
problem. We are not exterminating badgers. I like wildlife and
want it to survive and flourish...but we are not going to allow
the spread of TB either."......
A limited cull over five years to
test for links between TB in badgers, cattle and humans was
launched only in December. There is a ban on killing badgers
outside the cull zones, even on farms infected with TB.....
Elaine King, of the National
Federation of Badger Groups, estimated that even the limited cull
would destroy 20,000 badgers, far more than the 12,000 government
estimate. "This would be a public relations disaster. Farmers
are still illegally killing badgers like there is no tomorrow, and
the message would be that badgers definitely give TB to cattle
when there is no conclusive proof.