Defra sticks to its guns on badgers
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).