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Badger cull proposals 'rejected'

04 July 2008 - BBC News

The government has decided against a cull of badgers in England to control TB in cattle, the BBC understands.

...Ministers have accepted the scientific arguments of the Independent Scientific Group on TB in Cattle. The ISG's analysis which concluded that culling badgers would not be economic. And the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has in the past also said that public acceptance would be a factor in determining the government's policy.

...The decision was welcomed by prominent scientist Lord Krebs, who designed the experiments on the effectiveness of badger culling for the ISG. "If this report [on the government's decision] is true then Hilary Benn has made the right decision," he said. The ISG's analysis showed that sustained culling over a large area for five or six years might have some effect, "but even that is not clear-cut", according to Lord Krebs. He said: "It's not practical to carry out that kind of scorched-earth cull over a prolonged period for a policy that may not even work."

According to Lord Krebs, the incidence of TB in cattle is increasing very slowly, and he believes that the disease could be brought under control through better surveillance and biosecurity.

Badger groups have fought a campaign against a mass cull. Trevor Lawson, from the Badger Trust, said rejecting the idea of a badger cull would be the "right decision, based on sound science, which will allow farmers to move forwards in tackling this disease. There is no scientific, economic or practical case for culling badgers to control bovine TB," he said, adding that attention should be focused on cattle as "the main agents of the disease".

...In May, a report by badger groups claimed the "virtual extermination" of badgers in the Republic of Ireland had failed to stop the spread of bovine TB. ...

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