DEFRA consulting on allowing farmers to cull or vaccinate badgers at their own expense - Veterinary Practice
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DEFRA consulting on allowing farmers to cull or vaccinate badgers at their own expense

PROPOSALS for new measures to help
control bovine tuberculosis in cattle
have been published for public
consultation by the Agriculture
Minister, Jim Paice.

DEFRA is consulting on a proposal to
issue licences to farmers and landowners
who wish to cull and/or vaccinate badgers
at their own expense. These licences would
be subject to strict criteria to ensure, says the
department, that badger control is done
effectively, humanely and with high regard
for animal welfare.

Noting that last year 25,000 cattle were
slaughtered because of the disease and it
cost the taxpayer over £63 million in
England alone, Mr Paice said: “We can’t go
on like this. It’s clear that the current
approach has failed to stop the spread of
this terrible disease. We need to take urgent
action to halt its spread.

“No single measure will be enough to
tackle the disease on its own. But the science
is clear: there is no doubt that badgers are a
significant reservoir for the disease and
without taking action to control the disease
in them, it will continue to spread.

“No country in the world has eradicated
bovine TB without dealing with the
reservoir in wildlife.”

He added that he intended to publish “a comprehensive and balanced bovine TB
eradication programme” early next year.

Under the Government’s proposals,
farmers will be able to use vaccination
either on its own or in combination with
culling but they will be asked to explain
how they intend to minimise the negative
effect in the surrounding area identified
by the Randomised Badger Culling Trial
(RBCT). Farmers and landowners are
already able to apply for licences to
vaccinate badgers.

Culling will only be allowed in areas
where there is a high incidence of bovine
TB in cattle.

Mr Paice commented: “Based on
veterinary advice and the available
scientific evidence, the Government’s
assessment is that vaccination on its own
will not reduce disease as quickly as
culling. However by using it in
combination with culling, it is possible to
maximise the effectiveness of badger
control in reducing bovine TB in cattle.”

The consultation closes on 8th
December and can be found at www.
defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/tb-.
n The BVA and BCVA have welcomed
the announcement by the Welsh
Assembly Government (WAG) that it is
to consult on a new draft Tuberculosis
Eradication Order that will allow the
WAG to pursue a badger control
strategy in a specified area of west
Wales.

Keith Cutler, president of
BCVA,said the association was highly
supportive of the WAG’s new proposals
“as they will introduce a badger control
strategy alongside stricter cattle control
and biosecurity measures”. The new
order would focus on an “intensive
action area” where bovine TB levels
were extremely high.

For details of this consultation see
http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/envir onmentandcountryside/2010/100920 tbannouncement/?lang=en.

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