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Farmer blames badger for TB cull

11th November, 2002 - BBC News

A Pembrokeshire farmer has had to destroy pedigree cattle from a prize-winning herd after bovine tuberculosis (TB) was found on his farm.

Gareth James of Bernadswell, near Maenclochog, now fears for the rest of his Welsh Black cattle.

Mr James claims that UK Government vets refused to test a dead badger found on a road near his farm for TB.

Conservationists argue that badgers have been wrongly blamed for spreading the disease.

Michelle Dunn, a conservation officer with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said: "There is no direct positive evidence available linking Badgers to TB in cattle.

"We do sympathise with farmers and we hope there will be more routine testing to try and eradicate the disease."

Mr James has warned the disease could become rampant unless the government makes a greater effort to find exactly what is spreading the infection.

All the farmers' cattle passed a TB test in April.

However, in September, three of the herd failed the test and 50 pedigree cattle had to be destroyed from a herd which has won prizes at the Royal Welsh Show.

Mr James fears that TB could cause more damage than foot-and-mouth if the cause is not discovered soon.

"I have been well compensated but that doesn't bring back the work done over many years to breed good stock," he said.

"The strain of getting TB is bad enough but seeing animals which have been reared over the years being destroyed was very emotional.

"It has been quite heartbreaking and unforgettable."

A number of the cattle had to be culled on Mr James's farm because approved slaughterhouses in the area were too busy.

Rhodri Glyn Thomas, a member of the Welsh Assembly's Rural Affairs committee, said: "It is quite clear the government and the minister for rural affairs must act quickly on this matter.

"TB is spreading throughout Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire but nobody seems prepared to do anything about it.

"Livelihoods are at risk. We need a local network of slaughterhouses so farmers and their families don't have to suffer the further stress of seeing their animals having to be slaughtered on the farm."

Many in the farming industry believe badgers should be culled for spreading tuberculosis to cattle, but claims of a link between the two have been challenged by conservationists.

In 1998, the Krebs trial - which is still ongoing - was set up in England to look at the effect culling badgers makes on the spread of bovine TB.

It is also collating data on the disease in wild animals.

However, it may be another two years before the findings are made public.


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