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Badger cull damaged by protesters' disruption and farmers' impatience

Guardian - Saturday July 15, 2000

by James Meikle

The government's attempts to establish whether badgers are the prime cause for the rising incidence of TB in cattle are under increasing threat from activists seeking to wreck a limited cull of the wildlife.

Meanwhile farmers angry at what they see as government inaction to stop the spread of the disease outside the culling zones in the west country are boasting that they are shooting animals illegally.

Evidence from the badger cull will take at least another two years to collect. It could be 2004 before ministers decide a national policy for eradicating bovine TB, which is also prevalent in the sharply rising badger population.

But activists are destroying traps, picketing farms, damaging Ministry of Agriculture property and allegedly threatening officials, farmers and landowners in attempts to halt the experiment. Police wildlife officers say they have been taken aback by the number of farmers who claim they have broken British and international law by killing badgers, knowing they could not be held to account because of a lack of independent evidence......

The cull is costing 7m a year, with other research costing 4m, cattle TB testing 12m and compensation for the well over 6,000 cattle that have had to be destroyed another 5m. She denied any suggestion the government was neglecting other ways of combating TB, including vaccines for cattle or wildlife, better management of farms, and improved cattle breeding. There were likely to be several causes for the big increase in bovine TB......

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