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Stackyard News May 06

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How we beat bovine TB before: Badger Trust

The Badger Trust is calling attention to the way bovine tuberculosis was defeated over the decade up to 1970 by the area eradication scheme without any culling of wildlife including badgers. A Trust spokesman said: "BTB stands for Bovine Tuberculosis. It also means 'been there before'".

photo courtesy of The Badger Trust


The successful programme followed annual slaughter of up to 23,716 cattle in 1936 - broadly equal to the present toll - and 15,000 in 1961 after the whole country had been brought into annual testing. By 1979 it was down to only 628 individuals.

"Now, the Government has still not ruled out killing wildlife even though its own scientists have said it could make matters worse. They have also said movement of untested cattle far outweighs any wildlife considerations," said Mr David Williams, Badger Trust chairman.

Last week Defra figures indicated a sharp reduction in herd breakdowns although no wildlife killing had taken place since the culling of the last few animals at the end of last year in the Krebs trials.

Herd breakdowns have fallen by 40 per cent in Northern Ireland since 2004 through regular and prompt testing - and no killing of badgers at all.

The scientist reviewing the success of a post-war area eradication scheme wrote in 1961: "The plan went smoothly from the beginning; no serious difficulties were encountered and the great majority of owners cooperated in the carrying out of tuberculin tests".

Mr Williams said: "Three decades have been wasted since the 1970s pursuing the mirage of a 'wildlife reservoir'. Testing had been relaxed and the result was a runaway spread of infection. The same thing happened in the United States because testing was suspended during World War II. The solution there was the same as here. We should simply do the same again because we know it works".

link More top scientists reject badger culling to control bovine TB
link Tony Blair plays down public response to badger killing
link Badger Trust welcomes pre-movement testing, but more must be done

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