Tackling bovine TB: Badger cull or vaccine?
23 April 2010 - BBC News
Adrian Campbell BBC SW Environment correspondent
The green and fertile lowlands in the south of Ireland look similar to much
of Devon and Cornwall and, like the Irish Republic, both counties have problems
with bovine TB.
Irish politicians say they
have spent hundreds of millions of euros in recent years trying to solve the
issue but, so far, have failed. They believe bovine TB in cattle is most
commonly spread by badgers! Unlike England, the Irish have had a culling policy for badgers where wire
snares are used to trap badgers which are then shot.
The more modern humane option involves vaccination. The first vaccination deployment for badgers with bovine TB in England has
already begun. Across the south west of England, ten of millions of pounds of tax payers' money has already
been spent compensating farmers whose cattle have contracted the disease. Sadly
some hotspot areas for the disease will have to wait longer
than other parts of the country for the vital badger vaccine.
Many farmers want a limited cull of the badger, but most animal welfare
groups say such a move is too cruel as the animals may be injured when captured
and not killed outright instantly.
But what do British political parties have to offer?
The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats both said they would have a
"carefully-managed" and "science-led" policy of badger control in areas with
"high and persistent levels" of the disease. The Liberal Democrats added that a programme of vaccines, regular testing
and compulsory post-movement testing for cattle moving from high to low risk
areas was also needed.
The Labour Party said the only way to beat bovine TB in the long-term was by
"developing a vaccine". It said a badger vaccine deployment project had already
begun in six high-incidence areas in England and will continue for at least five
years in each area.
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