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Go-ahead for mass badger culls

[Wednesday 15 September 2010]

The Coalition Government today entered into one of the countryside’s greatest controversies by giving the go-ahead for the culling of tens of thousands of badgers based on hotly debated “facts” about the spread of TB to cattle.

Badgers have been blamed by farmers for spreading bovine TB, which has lead to the slaughter of some 36,000 animals as year, particularly in the West County. But other experts from organisations like the RSPCA claim that this is the wrong way round: it is the cattle which spread the disease to badgers.

This caused a massive controversy and the Labour government, which abandoned plans for mass culls in England – although they went ahead in Wales – and instead launched a major research programme into the possibilities of vaccinating badgers against the disease.

Today, the environment department Defra reversed that decision, giving farmers the right to cull badgers on their land which could lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of one of Britain’s favourite mammals, Brock the Badger, star of hundreds of childrens’ stories.

Although this has not been stated publicly, cost is probably one of the main causes of this volte-face. The costs of slaughtering TB affected cattle is said to run at £90,000 a year, a figure that could triple in the next few years as the disease spreads: it has already been reported as far north as Derbyshire.

The Coalition’s first PR disaster: our countryside commentator John Sheard will debate this decision in our Week in the Country column on Friday.

Feedback received on this subject:

Of all the possible methods of tb comtrol this government has chosen the worst. They promised to consider the science but did not say they were going to do the opposite.

Shooting will occur in a patchwork of areas and perturbed badgers will spread to the clean areas, which will be disastrous. The varied mix of measures will give the government many excuses for the disaster which will result.

Graham Sheffield

Well, what would you expect from a Tory govt, looking after their own AGAIN, it's known that illegal movements of cattle have taken place and poor old Brock is the scapegoat for this greed. As in all these so called urgent govt cuts it will be the weakest with the least say that will be targetted.

Both of these scenarios are disgusting but when there are people who never got a vote as there were cockups at Polling stations, conveniently hushed up, and those including myself, who voted LD to try to break the two party fiasco that is English politics, who got shafted by this "Coalition/TORY setup, WHAT HOPE IS THERE FOR ANYBODY BUT THE RICH - AGAIN!!"

Bob Lane Boston, Lincolnshire

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