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New figures show positive effect of badger cull

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The Farmers Union of Wales today welcomed figures which show badger culling continues to result in major reductions in TB incidences up to four and a half years after the end of a cull.

Figures published yesterday in the scientific journal PLoS ONE (see note below), under the heading Analysis of further data (to 25 February 2011) on the impacts on cattle TB incidence of repeated badger culling show a 31.5% reduction in confirmed TB herd incidences in English badger culling areas over the four and a half year period after badger culling ended and a reduction of 37% in the six months to March 2011.

These figures completely undermine previous claims that the positive effects of badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended, said FUW vice president and TB spokesman Brian Walters.

They also provide further evidence that the Welsh Assembly Government and National Assembly for Wales were right to support plans to cull badgers in north Pembrokeshire.

The way in which the proposed north Pembrokeshire cull has been designed means the overall impact in that area is likely to be significantly better than the results seen in England.

North Pembrokeshire has geographic boundaries and is almost three times the size of the English trial areas. All the scientific evidence published to date indicates that this will lead to reductions far higher than those seen in the English trial areas, said Mr Walters.

The latest results from England show that scientists have previously been wrong to make sweeping statements about the impact of badger culling.

When the Independent Science Group published its final report in 2007 we pointed out that the overall impact of culling would not be known for years, and were harshly critical of the politically loaded and unscientific claims made in the report.

These comments continue to be quoted to this day by anti-cull campaigners, especially the claim that culling cannot meaningfully contribute to future TB control.

Yet the latest figures clearly show that culling continues to contribute to future TB control, long after culling comes to an end, and we are still waiting for a scientific definition of the word meaningful, Mr Walters added.

Clarification note:

These results are not peer reviewed or fomally published in PLoS ONE. These reviews were published in unreviewed results posted as a comment by the authors of a research paper previously published in February 2010 on the PLoS ONE website.

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The original citation is Jenkins HE, Woodroffe R, Donnelly CA (2010) The Duration of the Effects of Repeated Widespread Badger Culling on Cattle Tuberculosis Following the Cessation of Culling. PLoS ONE 5(2): e9090. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009090

 

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