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Badger cull pilot area revealed

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24 March 2009 - BBC News

A pilot badger cull will take place in an area of west Wales to try to halt TB in cattle, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced. Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said it was needed to eradicate the disease in cattle, which has cost 23m in compensation this financial year alone. She said there would be an "intensive action area" covering around 200 square kilometres in north Pembrokeshire. It is expected badgers will be culled by cage trapping and then shooting. But she told AMs there would be further discussions with police about the methods to be used.

No date for the start of the proposed cull in Pembrokeshire was announced, but Ms Jones said moves to put the legislation into place to allow it to happen would begin next month. The minister authorised the scheme last April and said a pilot scheme would take place in a TB hotspot to learn lessons before being rolled out across Wales.

Dr Glossop said west Wales had the highest incidence of bovine TB in Britain and 60% of cattle being slaughtered because of the disease were in north Pembrokeshire. She said the cull, which will take place over five years, was just one of a number of measures that would be applied in the targeted area of north Pembrokeshire.

Badger Trust Cymru spokesman Steve Clark said the minister had "ignored the weight of scientific opinion and caved in to bullying farming unions and cull-mad vets. By combining badger culling with other TB control measures, Elin Jones will have no idea which particular measure reduces the disease," he said. "But any resulting fall in bovine TB will inevitably be attributed to badger culling, spelling doom for badgers across both Wales and the UK as pressure mounts to repeat this brutal extermination elsewhere," Mr Clark added.

Campaign group Viva, which has opposed the cull, said it was "a political decision designed to appease farmers and protect the seats of rural politicians".

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