Trust very disappointed by Welsh Government’s new cull policyBadger Trust
The Badger Trust is very disappointed at the the Welsh Government’s decision to cull badgers in attempting to reduce bovine TB on a small number of persistently infected farms in Wales. The policy was announced on Tuesday 20 June by Lesley Griffiths, Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs.
Responding to the statement, Badger Trust CEO Dominic Dyer said: “The Welsh government has made significantly better progress in reducing bovine TB than their counterparts in England, and without culling any badgers. The tiny scale and precise targeting of this scheme means that it cannot have any meaningful impact on the disease in Wales. All it does is reinforce a false impression amongst a vociferous minority of farmers and vets that badgers are responsible for infecting cattle, an idea for which there is no direct epidemiological evidence.”
“New herd incidents in Wales have fallen by 40% since 2009 with more than 95% of Welsh herds now being being free of TB. This is in stark contrast to England where despite the government spending £40 million of taxpayer’s money killing around 15,000 badgers in the South West over the past 4 years, new herd incidents of bovine TB have only reduced by 7.5%, and hardly at all in the cull areas. The English culls have been a conspicuous failure on all counts so it is a great shame that badgers continue to be blamed for what is primarily a livestock disease.”
Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin added:
“The Welsh Government’s success to date can be attributed purely to introducing a series of cattle based measures including tighter movement controls, improved bio security, risk based cattle trading and better TB testing. As a result, TB in Welsh badgers is also at an all time low of 6.6% nationally and around 1% in their worst hit area. The lower figure also coincides with the area where badgers have been vaccinated so introducing culling makes no sense as the chance of finding diseased badgers will be extremely low. Either way, both figures provide significant evidence suggesting badgers are simply a ‘spillover’ host.”
“There are no magic bullets to the problem of bovine TB and especially not on farms with a long history of the disease. Culling badgers is a step backwards for the Welsh TB control policy and in the absence of proper monitoring or a published cost/benefit analysis, it is hard to see how it would bring any benefit to farmers or taxpayers.”
“The Badger Trust is aware that many farmers remain concerned about TB in badgers but is clear that creating stable, healthy badger populations by vaccinating them will offer farmers far more peace of mind in the long term. The Welsh government’s vaccination programme is currently on hold due to restrictions on vaccine use but that does not apply to NGO’s such as the Badger Trust. We have therefore made an offer to the Welsh Chief Vet that we would be happy to work with any farmers in areas of persistent TB outbreaks in Wales, to vaccinate rather than cull badgers on their land.”
The Badger Trust is seeking an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, to call for a postponement of any plans for the culling of badgers until the impact of the latest cattle control, trading restrictions and bio security measures in its TB Eradication Programme have been fully assessed.
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