Badger culls urged for bovine TB
22 January 2008 - BBC News
Badger culls should be part of a "holistic" approach to tackling bovine
tuberculosis (TB) in Wales, according to Assembly Members. But the RSPCA said a
cull would make no meaningful contribution to the problem.
Although broadly welcoming the report, the Badger Trust Cymru said a cull
would have "no scientific validity and will serve no useful purpose".
The report into controlling the disease in cattle was undertaken by the
assembly's rural development sub committee. Their findings concluded that only a
combination of increased on-farm biosecurity, the control of TB in the wildlife
population and the accurate identification of reactors would control the
disease. Animals who test positive as a bovine TB reactor means they may have
come into contact with the disease and under government rules, these cattle must
be shot. Annual testing of cattle was one of the recommendations made in the
report, and the report also stressed the importance of farmers and wildlife
groups "taking ownership" of the problem.
Alun Davies, chair of the sub-committee, said previous policies used to bring
the disease under control had failed to stop its spread. "There is a real link
between bovine TB in cattle and the disease in wildlife," he said. "At present
we are simply not convinced that we have the tools available at our disposal to
either control or eliminate the disease. It is clear the assembly government
will need to make substantial investments in the animal disease control and
biosecurity infrastructure in Wales."
Mike Sharratt, for Badger Trust Cymru, said: "Killing badgers in one area,
that is not randomly selected and has no scientific control with which to
compare the results, will have no scientific validity. The science clearly shows
that badgers' small role in this disease occurs when they are in farm buildings
looking for food. Better cattle testing and excluding badgers from farm
buildings is a win-win solution and we hope that the assembly government has the
wisdom to implement it," he added.
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