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Cull Options for TB Infected Badgers Must Be Examined Now
20/06/07

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has urged DEFRA, in the light of the final report of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on cattle TB, to examine with the farming industry how a cost effective and practical cull of TB infected badgers could be conducted.

badger

TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said, “Having looked at the report of the ISG and heard the presentations from the scientists and other’s represented on the ISG at today’s open meeting in London, it is clear that there is irrefutable evidence that TB infected badgers are a significant contributor to TB in cattle. This is despite the best efforts of some within wildlife lobby groups that have sought to argue that TB is a cattle only problem. We must conclude, therefore that attempting to control TB in cattle with cattle restrictions alone, without any intervention with infected wildlife, we will not solve the TB problem”.

The ISG has concluded that wide scale, intensive culling of infected badgers over a long period of time will have a significant benefit in terms of reducing TB in cattle but has expressed concerns about increases in infection on the edges of the culling areas due to the pattern of badger movements in those areas.

“What we must do is define cull areas to minimise these edge effects by ensuring that they are bordered by geographical features such as roads, rivers and the sea to stop badgers from moving in and out of the culling areas. What we must not do is use the problem as a justification for doing nothing to control TB in badgers” said Mr Dunn.

The TFA has however criticised the economic analysis carried out by the ISG.

“The weakest part of the ISG’s work is the economic analysis of culling strategies and there is a danger that headline figures based on rocky assumptions will be used to justify the ‘do nothing’ approach. Of course we need a sound economic basis for any policy but it must be carried out on a more informed basis. The ISG’s work undervalues the cattle slaughtered and ignores important factors such as replacement costs particularly for animals of high genetic merit and of organic status, the costs associated with long-term business shut down and the human costs which, whilst difficult to assess, must be part of the analysis. The economic work must be redone quickly alongside a detailed analysis of the most cost effective and efficient method of culling infected badgers” said Mr Dunn.

link NFU reacts to ISG Bovine TB report findings
link Badger culling is meaningless, report scientists
link Badger Trust Warns Vet's Evidence Based on Anecdote

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Tenant Farmers Association