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Pembrokeshire badger cull decision 'perverse'

22 February 2010 - BBC News

A planned badger cull to tackle the spread of TB in cattle has been called "perverse" by an ex-senior scientific adviser to the UK government. Dr Chris Cheeseman called on Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) officials to reconsider the cull of badgers in Pembrokeshire. The badger cull is expected to start in the spring as part of a package of measures. The assembly government said studies indicated a cull of badgers could have an impact on infection in cattle, but Dr Cheeseman said the decision "flies in the face of the science" and could make bovine TB worse.

Dr Cheeseman, retired head of wildlife diseases research at the Central Science Laboratory, told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme that evidence indicated badgers would move out of the area and settle elsewhere, potentially taking the infection with them. "I think the decision to cull flies in the face of the science," he said. "They've got to take account of the fact that it will raise the prevalence of TB in badgers, there will be a negative edge effect. The benefits - if there are any - are likely to be rather small, and they won't be able to tease out what the effects of culling are because they're including culling with cattle control measures so you can't separate those scientifically in the results. Altogether I think it's a perverse decision which, even at this late stage, should be rethought."

The WAG is facing a legal challenge over the cull from the Badger Trust. Pembrokeshire Against the Cull, said it was also seeking legal advice with a view to a possible challenge on the basis that the WAG did not adequately consult landowners about the cull.

Eye on Wales is broadcast on Monday, 22 February at 1832 GMT, BBC Radio Wales.

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