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FUW Welcomes Final Seal Of Approval For Badger Cull



The Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) has welcomed Rural Affairs Minister Elin Joness confirmation today that the Welsh Assembly Government intends to proceed with a badger cull to combat bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) in Wales.

The decision to cull badgers in a limited Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) in west Wales, which has already received overwhelming cross-party support from members of the National Assembly for Wales during plenary votes, marks the final Ministerial decision regarding the matter – notwithstanding the outcome of a legal challenge by the Badger Trust.

Welcoming the decision, FUW bTB spokesman Brian Walters, a Carmarthenshire organic dairy producer, said: This final Ministerial decision marks an important step towards reducing bTB incidences in an area that has one of the highest rates of the disease in Europe.

The work undertaken and commissioned by the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer shows that this decision is the right one, and the only one likely to result in significant falls in bTB incidences in an areas where badgers have been shown to have high levels of infection.

It is supported by the science, and has therefore received the support of the Welsh Assembly Government and the overwhelming majority of Assembly Members from all political parties. However, it should not be forgotten that it is just one part of a host of measures being undertaken to combat bTB in Wales.

Mr Walters also expressed his concern that a legal challenge by the Badger Trust should not derail the Welsh bTB Eradication Programme. It has taken a great deal of work to get to this position, but as time marches on the epidemic continues to grow.

While the Badger Trusts legal challenge is disappointing, it comes as no surprise. However, it should not be allowed to derail the progress made to date, as a lengthy and drawn out court case would see the epidemic continue to escalate.

Mr Walters also hit out at misleading and inflammatory claims by animal rights organisation aimed at misleading public opinion. He said: There seems to be no end to the unfounded and misleading statements being issued, by many of those who oppose the cull, which fly in the face of conclusive scientific evidence gathered over almost four decades.

In areas where the disease is endemic in the badger population experience has shown that no amount of cattle controls will help without parallel moves to significantly reduce transmission from badgers.

The Royal Society, the worlds oldest and most respected science academy, has published work indicating that cattle movements are likely to be responsible for just 16 per cent of bTB herd outbreaks, and that High-risk spread is probably the result of cattlebadgerBTB interaction, and the English badger culling trials have succeeded in slashing bTB incidences by more than a half.

There is no doubt that badgers are the major obstacle to controlling the spread of bTB to cattle and that badger culling works. Any talk about farming practices being a significant factor are unfounded and have been shown to be such following numerous initiatives aimed at cattle alone.

“The bottom line is that badgers and cattle share the same fields, yet we have been culling tens of thousands of cattle while ignoring the wildlife reservoir.

It is also completely wrong to talk about the eradication of badgers – the aim is one that should be supported by all parties, namely to have healthy badgers and healthy cattle living alongside each other.

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