TheBeefSite.com - news, features, articles and disease information for the beef industry

News

Badger Cull Locations Confirmed

19 January 2012

England, UK - Two areas in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset have been selected, from a shortlist proposed by the farming industry, as the most suitable to pilot controlled shooting of badgers. This forms part of a science-led and closely monitored policy to bring bovine TB under control.

Landowners and farmers in these areas are now able to apply for licences to pilot new measures designed to tackle the devastating impact of bovine TB, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has confirmed.

Jim Paice said: “Bovine TB is a chronic and devastating disease. It causes the slaughter of tens of thousands of cattle each year, and is taking a terrible toll on our farmers and rural communities.

“Nobody wants to cull badgers. But no country in the world where wildlife carries TB has eradicated the disease in cattle without tackling it in wildlife too."

Natural England will now assess applications against a set of strict criteria, before a decision is taken on whether to issue a licence.

The pilots will allow the careful examination of how safe, humane and effective controlled shooting is and were announced, after public consultation on better tackling bovine TB, in December last year.

The criteria include:

  • The individuals taking part must be able to demonstrate a high level of competence in marksmanship, and then successfully complete a Government approved training course;


  • All participating farmers must comply with all the Government’s TB cattle controls;


  • Biosecurity measures to minimise the spread of bovine TB between cattle, and minimise badgers interacting with cattle, must be implemented by participating farmers;


  • There must be a high incidence of TB already present in cattle and the area must be at least 150km2 with access to at least 70 per cent of it; and


  • Participants must take reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of badgers with TB relocating or spreading bovine TB to areas surrounding the culled area. These could include natural barriers that help stop the movement of badgers – like coastline, rivers and major roads – or vaccination of badgers in the surrounding areas before the pilots begin.

Jim Paice also stated that the Chair of the independent panel of experts will be Professor Christopher Wathes, who will have the important role of overseeing the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot areas. Professor Wathes is a Professor of Animal Welfare at the Royal Veterinary College and the current chair of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC). Other panel members will be appointed shortly.

Professor Wathes said: “Badger culling is a very sensitive issue which is why this group will be completely independent in the work they conduct. I will be joined by a selection of experts from a range of disciplines and our job will be to carefully consider the design and conduct of the pilots to enable a thorough examination of the humaneness, safety and effectiveness of the culling method being used.”

The National Beef Association has said that it looks forward to today's announcement paving the way for additional cull areas in England in 2013.

Bill Harper, NBA TB Committee Chairman, says: “Today is a major breakthrough on what will be a long journey. We are still a long way off a badger cull taking place, but the attitude of all involved in very encouraging and we remain positive that licences will be granted and everything put in place for the two pilot areas to surge into action this autumn.

“We are confident the two pilot areas will achieve their objective – to prove that free shooting is a safe, humane and effective way to cull badgers – and then the gate will be open for 10 pilot areas to be licenced in 2013 and every year after that.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

TheCattleSite News Desk



Partners


Seasonal Picks

Managing Pig Health: A Reference for the Farm - 2nd Edition