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'Complete change' as Welsh Assembly ponders badger cull to combat bTB

19 March 2007 - Farmers Weekly

The Welsh Assembly has taken a major step towards ordering local badger culls to combat bovinetuberculosis.

According to one source within the assembly walls, officials and politicians are talking of a complete change in attitude towards a cull in wildlife.

And the assembly's advisory body, the BovineTB Action Group, has announced it will visit the Republic of Ireland in April to examine its culling strategy.

The group will report back in June after the local elections have taken place in the principality in May and recommend action to the first minister in the assembly.

The renewed activity follows the Welsh Found Dead Badger Survey. It found up to 26% of badgers carried the disease in some counties and that the strain of TB found, matched the strain prevalent in cattle in the local area.

Wales' chief vet Christianne Glossop said it could not be determined whether the disease had originated with the cattle or the badgers.

But Dr Glossop said diseased badgers were raising as many as four disease-carrying litters before the dams eventually died underground.

TB Action Group chair Tamsin Dunwoody, a Labour deputy minister, said she expected a recommendation to be arrived at "fairly quickly" in a "very objective and scientific" way to deal with wildlife.

Asked why the group's change of attitude, Dr Glossop referred to the findings of the found-dead survey, a "change in attitude among the representative groups", and a recognition of the need to deal with TB in wildlife.

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