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Farming minister insists badger cull is needed

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 14, 2013

Comments (7)

NEW figures have shown that nearly 2,000 cattle were slaughtered in Gloucestershire last year as a result of bovine TB.

Ministers have said the statistics showed the growing impact of the disease on the diary and beef industry and that there was a need to curb its spread.

Bovine TB led to the slaughter of 1,930 cattle in the county last year, compared to 1,805 in 2011.

Farming Minister David Heath said it proved there was a need to cull badgers to prevent further spread of the disease.

He said: "Last year, 28,284 cattle had to be slaughtered in England as a result of TB.

"More than 20,000 were from farms in western England, including 1,930 in Gloucestershire. No other area of the country knows as well as this community the devastation TB can cause.

"Every cattle farmer in Gloucestershire will tell you they live in constant dread that one day they will get the terrible news their herd has tested positive for bovine TB. The cull might not be universally popular but it is backed up by science."

But Drew Pratten, of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, said there was a need to focus on the right issues.

He added: "We are truly upset at the degree of suffering that TB causes, both in cattle and in badgers.

"However, what must be remembered is that there is no independent scientist saying that a cull would work.

"In fact, many say that the culling of badgers would make things worse as it will disturb sets making sick badgers move around.

"We don't want a county rife with TB, neither do we want a county devoid of wildlife.

"The cull will only bring anger and upset from the general public but a wave of anger directed at farmers, who can ill afford it in the current climate."

Mr Heath has stressed that no one should disrupt the cull as it is legal activity.

He added: "No one has the right to disrupt legal activity or threaten those who have chosen to take part in it.

"Those carrying out the cull must be allowed to proceed safely and without fear of intimidation."

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  • badgerhugger  |  March 18 2013, 3:57PM

    Seven or eight out of ten badgers in the very worst areas are free of TB. I wonder if they will test the culled ones and publicise the results. Don't hold your breath.

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  • stormkettle  |  March 16 2013, 10:07PM

    What percentage of badgers in proposed bovine Tb cull areas actually have bovine Tb ? I presume this research has actually been done.

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  • Lepista  |  March 14 2013, 9:58PM

    The Public should also be allowed to know the companies and farms supporting the badger cull, so that they can exercise their democratic right to boycott them.

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  • Clued-Up  |  March 14 2013, 3:00PM

    I'd like to see more honesty and a better grasp of science from the minister. "Heath said [the number of cattle slaughtered] proved there was a need to cull badgers to prevent further spread of the disease." That's a misleading statement. Heath claims badgers cause cattle bTB - which is not scientifically proven. Cattle to cattle transmission of bTB is the most obvious cause of the spread of the disease and past experience shows tight control of cattle movement and better cattle management on farms can eradicate the disease. There's as yet no scientific proof that badgers TRANSMIT bTB to cattle - we only know that both species can be affected by the same sub-species of the disease. "The cull might not be universally popular but it is backed up by science." More misleading statements. Heath knows the cull is almost universally unpopular (around 92% public being against it, an almost unheard of degree of opposition to any government policy). He also knows the UK's leading scientists and science and animal health say a badger cull will not reduce cattle bTB by more than a very tiny amount - and may even increase it.

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  • Jennypenny  |  March 14 2013, 12:16PM

    Wow, finally someone with a brain! I'm sick to death of all the bumpkins & arrogant MP's who seem to think they know better than all those highly respected, not to mention Independent, scientists that have categorically stated the cull wont work! thank you very much for this for this intelligently written article.

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  • mrsbrock22  |  March 14 2013, 12:15PM

    How many of those cows ACTUALLY HAD Bovine TB ? They are 'reactors' which means they have come into contact with it (not surprising since most of them live in their own excement) . Being a 'reactor DOES NOT mean they have BTB or can pass it on - the MAY be building up a natural immunity to the disease but this CAN'T happen because these cows are constantly being killed! The badger cull IS NOT legal - Parliament voted AGAINST IT

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  • fischadler  |  March 14 2013, 12:05PM

    The petition against the cull on the Governments own website has reached 174,500 signatures which is a clear 60,000 more than any other open petition at this time. 92% of the Great British public are against the cull. Parliament voted 147 to 28 against the cull. There are no scientists outside of Defra who support the cull. The cull will have no meaningful effect on Bovine Tb and could in fact make matters worse. There will however be a meaningful loss of respect for farmers involved in this diabolical slaughter of our most iconic mammal. There will also be a meaningful boycott of the farms involved. Yeo Valley are not slaughtering badgers and are therefore badger friendly. Others should follow suit. National Trust, RSPB, many Wildlife Trusts and the Welsh government are vaccinating badgers and England should pursue this option together with the increased bio security measures and better animal husbandry which is supposed to be happening on farms."

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