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Reactive culling of badgers is suspended

4 November, 2003 - BBC News

Bovine TB increased by 27% in areas of reactive culling
The culling of badgers has been suspended by the government after new tests suggested it was counterproductive in the battle against tuberculosis in cattle.

"I have decided to suspend operations immediatelybecause of the risk that a further three months of culling would cause additional TB breakdowns"
Ben Bradshaw, animal health and welfare minister

The announcement was made in a written statement to the House of Commons from Exeter MP and animal health and welfare minister Ben Bradshaw.

Mr Bradshaw said culling would be suspended in "reactive treatment areas" with immediate effect.

He said the decision had been taken on the basis of recent scientific findings from the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle Tuberculosis (ISG).

The ISG was appointed by the government in 1998 to design and oversee a large-scale field trial aimed at evaluating badger culling as a way of reducing the incidence of TB in cattle.

The Krebs trials cover 10 areas across the country - five of them in the South West - as well as locations in Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

The areas are divided into three. In the first, the badgers are culled immediately (proactive culling); in the second, they are killed if there is an outbreak of TB (reactive culling); and in the third zone, the badgers are left alone.

The trials found that killing badgers in reaction to an outbreak of bovine TB led to an increase in the disease.

Mr Bradshaw said proactive culling would continue because the data for these areas did not yet yield a statistically significant result.

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