Badger culling plans criticised
21 Jan 2006 - BBC News
to cull badgers as part of the fight against tuberculosis in cattle
have been criticised by a senior government adviser on the
Professor John Bourne said a cull could worsen England's bovine
TB situation, adding ministers had underestimated the level of
Conservationists say cattle movements are to blame for spreading
Most farmers say a cull is needed but disagree with government
proposals, saying they do not go far enough.
A consultation was launched after ministers said TB was at crisis
More than £90m was spent on battling bovine TB last year but the
debate still rages over how to tackle the disease.
Prof Bourne has now made public his doubts over cull proposals on
BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme.
He said: "There does need to be a far more aggressive focus on
the cattle problem before one is going to see any decrease in the
instance of the disease.
There's no doubt in my mind that this would be achievable if
there was concerted effort between farmers and government to more
aggressively control the disease in cattle."
Anthony Gibson, who heads the Nation Farmers' Union in south-west
England, also said government plans could make the situation worse.
He said farmers would refuse to take responsibility for snaring
and shooting the animals, saying government scientists should gas
"We are keen on culling providing it is effective culling - to be
effective it has got to involve the gassing of infected sets.
We're not going to go along with partial control that could make
the situation worse." He claimed the government would not authorise the use of gas on
badgers for at least another year.
But animal groups deny the necessity of culling the animals at
Dr Arthur Lindley, of the RSPCA, said scientific evidence showed
a cull of badgers was "inappropriate".
"It certainly won't make the situation better, may well make the
situation worse, and will involve enormous suffering."
He called for tighter controls on the movement of cattle and
better testing of the animals.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
said it would welcome all opinions as part of its consultation.
Badger culling was just one of the proposals put forward by the
government when it launched the consultation in December.
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