Fears over Court Ruling on Badger Cull

UK - The National Beef Association has raised fears over the Court of Appeal’s decision to block Welsh Government moves to cull badgers in a locality that it says has an especially stiff TB infection.
calendar icon 16 July 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The NBA is concerned that if it leads to the suspension of other badger cull plans elsewhere in the UK, it condemn many more beef and dairy farmers to what it desccribes as a permanently one-sided struggle against an avoidable, and rapidly expanding, badger and cattle plague.

“So it must be hoped that both the Welsh Assembly Government, and Defra in London, have the moral strength and technical ability to re-frame new Disease Control Orders in both countries, and then present accompanying arguments that can secure unimpeachable High Court approval for an organised badger cull that allows TB in badgers and cattle to be curbed simultaneously,” said NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“The case demonstrates just how much difficulty people, even learned Appeal Court judges, have in understanding that infected badgers spread the disease of TB.

"Over the next 10 years the spread is expected to cost many farmers a lot of money and distress, and the tax-payer more than £1 billion in veterinary costs for more and more TB testing, paying for reactors (a requirement under EU law), haulage, killing, and, in many cases, burning of carcases.

“It is important to acknowledge that the disease will be spread ever more widely to, at the moment, healthy badger setts, and that will continue for as long as controls in TB hot-spot areas focus exclusively on the sentinel cattle and the contribution made by badgers is ignored by the law.

“The NBA fully supports the continued efforts by the Welsh Assembly Government and Defra to establish a targeted badger cull.

"However the NBA wishes that they would emphasize to the public the huge increase in the number of badgers which, as a result of the judgment, will now die an unpleasant emaciated death from TB. In the badger population TB has been spreading at a fairly consistent 10 miles a year as infection spreads - often by biting - from one badger to another.

“The Appeal Judges’ other fear, that badgers in Britain would become extinct if they were subject to anti-TB culling, can be challenged with confidence. No farmer or farmers’ organisation has ever envisaged eliminating all badgers from the countryside – the request has been that there should be a targeted cull in limited areas by qualified and licensed persons, and even then only where the TB disease can be shown to be present in a high proportion of badgers.

“It is difficult to understand how the Appeal Court could reach the conclusion it did when the fight against TB is currently confined to infected badger areas - and to any movement of cattle from such areas. Records show that TB erupts among badgers in heavily infected areas when their population is too thick on the ground and immediately reduces when it is thinner after infected badgers are removed.

“The solution to this problem lies in eradicating the disease in both cattle and the primary source of infection, badgers, for the sake of both species,” Ms Haywood added.

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