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'No preparations' for badger cull

14 Feb 2006 - BBC News

Claims by wildlife trusts that the government has decided to tackle bovine tuberculosis with a badger cull have been denied.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust said it feared the government was to defy its own scientists and implement a "mass eradication" across the South West. The trust said a cull would "disregard years of scientific research".

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "There is no question of preparing for a cull." If culls went ahead, the trust believed ministers could "disregard years of scientific research into the spread of bovine tuberculosis [bTB] and cull badgers in an attempt to control the disease, despite being told that this will not work".

The director of regional programmes for the South West Wildlife Trusts, Simon Brenman, said: "Our sources tell us there is an awful lot of preparatory work going on in advance. We are incredulous that it seems against all advice this is what is going to happen. We think they have made up their mind."

But a spokesman for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "There is no question of preparing for a cull or anything like it.

"The minister has said the consultation is just that and it is open to everyone. We will take everyone's view into account very seriously before making a decision. Even when the consultation is finished, it will take some time before a decision is implemented."

Cornwall Wildlife Trust director Trevor Edwards said: "The trust appreciates the impact that bTB has and sympathises with farmers affected. However, badger culling is clearly not the solution and could make matters worse." He added: "The government's own research is telling them that cattle-to-cattle transmission is the biggest reason for the spread of bTB and that culling badgers around affected farms does not reduce the overall incidence of the disease." The charity said: "It does no one any good if we fly in the face of science and make a scapegoat of badgers."

Public consultation on the issue is due to end on 10 March.

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