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Badgers may be culled to halt TB

6 December 2005 - BBC News

A culling of badgers to fight bovine tuberculosis could be announced by the government in the next two weeks.

MPs from the South West told Animal Health Minister Ben Bradshaw on Tuesday that the situation in cattle farming in the region was "desperate". Mr Bradshaw says if there is supporting scientific evidence, badger culling will be introduced, but it will have to be intensive and widespread.

Farmers blame badgers, while badger groups blame cattle movements.

Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox told a House of Commons debate that he had access to State Veterinary Service figures which show an increase this year from 396 new herd incidences of TB to 669 between 1 January and 1 December.

But Mr Bradshaw questioned the statistics and said they were not comparing like-with -like and the bigger figure included unconfirmed cases.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), about 250,000 cattle were tested and 1,500 animals slaughtered in Cornwall between 1 January and 31 May 2005.

The National Farmers' Union estimates the cost to British farming could escalate from 60m a year to 145m in five years' time if nothing is done.

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