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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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