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Stackyard News Jan 05
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NBA attacks one-sided TB controls

The annual culling tally for TB infected animals in Great Britain reads: Cattle: 23,000 - Badgers outside control trial areas: Nil, even though thousands of badgers are themselves dying horribly from the disease, the National Beef Association reported today.

And on top of this taxpayers face a TB control bill for 2004-2005 of more than £100 million while the 5,800 farmers whose businesses are under movement restriction have been hit with £millions in other costs.

"TB is a two species disease with one-sided control management and as a result costs to the Exchequer over 2005-2006 are expected to top £120 million with further 20 per cent annual compound increases to come," explained NBA policy advisor, Kim Haywood.

"Farmers are already hacked off with this unfairness and it can only be a matter of time before the taxpaying public becomes equally fed up and asks its own pointed questions about government failure to tackle the expensive problem of TB in Britain's 750,000 strong badger population too."

At present badgers outside the trial areas that suffer from the disease are not included in the government's anti-TB campaign and this tactic is encouraged by well organised pressure groups which threaten extreme political pressure any time the flawed, cattle-only, controls appear likely to be reviewed.

"Farmers cannot believe that diseased badgers are offered such high-priced public and political protection and are hoping that costly government shortsightedness will soon be challenged by taxpayers themselves," said Ms Haywood.

"Besieged cattle owners would like to make it clear that they have no wish to encourage wholesale badger slaughter, as some propagandists allege, but want to limit culling to small, but highly critical, local populations of infected animals instead."

According to the NBA badger numbers have increased five fold over the last 30 years and there is no prospect of this protected species being endangered.

"But we do propose that badgers in areas where grazing cattle herds are repeatedly infected are tested for TB using Polymerase Chain Reaction portable laboratories and if found to be positive are humanely put down, along with their immediate sett mates, using inert carbon monoxide gas."

"TB in badgers is triggered by stress from overcrowding, semi-starvation and fighting for territory - which are all symptoms of chronic overpopulation."

"So a properly targeted anti-TB campaign which focused equally and fairly on both cattle and badgers would have the dual result of lightening the cost burden on taxpayers as well as improving living conditions for thousands of badgers as well."

"It is important that the public, politicians, and groups of activists who currently argue that there are no circumstances in which infected badgers should be culled fully understand this," Ms Haywood added.

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