De­fra sticks to its guns on badgers

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

DE­FRA has re­sisted calls from wildlife char­i­ties to stop this year’s bad­ger cull, the first un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of new Sec­re­tary of State An­drea Lead­som, and has in­stead ex­tended it, last week an­nounc­ing seven ad­di­tional li­cences for parts of Here­ford­shire, Glouces­ter­shire, Corn­wall, Devon and Dorset. The NFU says this rep­re­sents 10% of the most high-risk ar­eas.

The Gov­ern­ment’s Chief Vet, Nigel Gib­bins, com­ments: ‘Ac­tion to pre­vent in­fec­tion of cat­tle from sig­nif­i­cant reser­voirs of TB in­fec­tion in lo­cal bad­ger pop­u­la­tions is an es­sen­tial part of the 25-year strat­egy to erad­i­cate bovine TB in En­gand. Proac­tive bad­ger con­trol is cur­rently the best avail­able op­tion.’

Re­cent re­search track­ing badgers and cat­tle over 20 Cor­nish farms by the ecol­o­gist Rosie Woodruffe, who is against the cull, in­di­cates that the rea­son the dis­ease is so hard to con­trol is that badgers don’t nec­es­sar­ily need to come into con­tact with cat­tle to in­fect them, nor cat­tle with other cat­tleñthe bac­te­ria can sur­vive for months in the en­vi­ron­ment.

De­fra is run­ning con­sul­ta­tions on how best to tackle test­ing for a dis­ease that costs tax­pay­ers more than £100 mil­lion a yearñeng­land, where more than 28,000 cat­tle were slaugh­tered in 2015, is the worst af­fected coun­try in Europe. The clos­ing date is Novem­ber 8 (www.gov.uk/gov­ern­ment/ con­sul­ta­tions).

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