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Badger cull 'low priority' for TB

2 October 2006 - BBC News

By Richard Black - Environment correspondent on the BBC News website

Culling badgers should be a low priority for curbing cattle tuberculosis, according to a scientist advising the British government.

New research by Dr Rosie Woodroffe and colleagues suggests that culling raises the rate of TB infection in badgers. It also demonstrates that cattle infect badgers with the bacterium.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team suggests cattle testing and movement controls are a priority. "This research has two important conclusions," said Dr Woodroffe, a researcher at the University of California in Davis and a member of the UK government's Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB. The first is that it shows for the first time that there is substantial transmission of TB from cattle to badgers, whereas in the past it's been assumed that didn't happen," she told the BBC News website. "The second conclusion is that repeated culling increases the prevalence in badgers - each time you cull, it goes up and up."

The government is currently considering whether to introduce a cull, though a consultation mounted recently by Defra suggested public opinion is firmly against such a move.

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