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Badger cull could start this weekend

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

Badger cull officials and organisers are remaining tight-lipped about plans

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The controversial pilot cull of badgers in the South West could begin as early as this weekend, but officials and organisers are remaining tight-lipped about plans.

The Government has given permission for the six-week test cull in the bovine tuberculosis hotspot area around Tewkesbury in west Gloucestershire. A licence has also been granted in West Somerset, though that is not likely to start yet.

The culls have to be over by the New Year, when the badger breeding season begins.

The cull to tackle bovine TB will be a “contribution towards bearing down on the disease”, said Farms Minister David Heath, Lib Dem MP for Somerton and Frome in Somerset. “Nothing would please me more than to move to a vaccination programme to eradicate this disease,” he said, but acknowledged it was “still a few years away yet”.

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He maintained the cull was “nothing to do with any political considerations” and was about dealing effectively with a devastating disease.

He added: “If I wanted to be popular I would not be talking about killing little black and white creatures that everybody loves. This is simply a response to a devastating disease, doing so in the most effective way in terms of the science and the evidence that we have.”

The pilot culls in the two chosen areas would potentially see between 500 and 800 badgers killed, he said.

Mr Heath’s comments came after Lord Krebs, who ran the last badger-cull trial, questioned the scientific support for it. He told the BBC: “People certainly have cherry-picked results to try to get the argument that they want. I’m not very impressed by the current policy.”

Wildlife campaigners and opponents believe culls do not have a significant effect on tackling the disease in livestock.

Responding, Mr Heath said: “The scientific support we have suggests that a cull of the sort that we are proposing would be a contribution towards bearing down on the disease.

“It’s not the answer in itself. There are lots of other things that we have to do. We have to continually improve bio-security, we have to continually make sure that we reduce cattle-to-cattle infection, but as part of a toolbox of things that we can do, this is certainly an effective part.”

Mr Heath said the pilot culls would take place “probably very soon indeed”. He added: “This is an absolutely devastating disease with 26,000 cattle slaughtered last year. The fact is that while nobody wants to see a single badger killed, there isn’t a single country in this world that’s actually borne down effectively on bovine TB without doing something about the reservoir in the wild population.”

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  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 9:36PM

    And Muttley, I'm a 'C' programmer amongst other things. . I was writing my own company's software 25 years ago. . I find your multiple Red Arrows rather amusing. . Sixth form stuff. I went to my first lectures on tuberculosis when I was just 18 or 19. Back in 1997, Dr. Jerome Harms, now Senior Scientist, Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote. "Recently, there have been many outbreaks of M.bovis caused tuberculosis in humans especially HIV+ patients. Most have occurred in countries where M.bovis is endemic in the animal agriculture population. Multi-drug resistant strains of M.bovis are now appearing as well. The significance of this TB threat from M.bovis has not been taken as seriously as the threat from M.tuberculosis (Human TB)" "However, the scientific and medical community must not ignore the potential of an M.bovis TB epidemic." Again; quite prophetically, he wrote that back in 1997. Would you like Dr. Jerome Harms email address to get some lessons? . I'm sure he'll oblige. http://tinyurl.com/3pr96zy

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  • Muttley  |  October 14 2012, 9:06PM

    The links are: Observer front page: http://tinyurl.com/9bmrmh9 Letter from leading scientists http://tinyurl.com/944hdhl

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  • Muttley  |  October 14 2012, 9:03PM

    Charles, you have been very rude and thrown all kinds of insults so I hope you will not take it too badly when I say your strange meanderings don't help anyone, least of all yourself. Much more to the (rational) point, as a scientist, even the Government Chief scientist does not support the culls. Observer front page: top scientists condemn badger cull null Letter from leading scientists null

    |   5
  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 8:39PM

    You might not care, but mothers and people with pets do. When it starts getting any more regular an occurrence it will be too late. Just how many children with scrofula IS a live badger worth to you? http://tinyurl.com/9txo85a (open in a new window)

    |   -54
  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 8:30PM

    Don't you call me daft. Your ignorance is staggering. Do you know ANYTHING at ALL about the tuberculosis causing genus? Obviously not, and I'm not wasting my time talking to you. That was to demonstrate Scrofula for the ignorant.

    |   -49
  • Muttley  |  October 14 2012, 8:08PM

    Don't be daft Charles, your link is to children in Bangladesh catching TB from other people.

    |   11
  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 7:11PM

    Risk to the Children!!!! Just how sick are you? http://tinyurl.com/9r6ennv

    |   -38
  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 7:08PM

    I don't really care what you think Muttley. You have no science,. All you have is "poor badgers, we mustn't kill them." A typical cow killer. Just how many head of cattle killed prematurely will satisfy your hatred of them? Or just how many more badgers do you want dying a miserable death?

    |   -24
  • Muttley  |  October 14 2012, 6:56PM

    @Charlespk Some 30 top scientists who know a lot more than you have said the cull is not worthwhile and may make things worse. I think people would take you more seriously if you stopped the endless responses (sometimes it seems to your own last post), ranting, threats, shouting (capitals) and saying people know nothing. Just when I thought I'd seen it all, now we have the risk to children.

    |   24
  • Charlespk  |  October 14 2012, 4:40PM

    Badgerists who want to vaccinate badgers with the 90 year old and failing attenuated BCG vaccine, have a lot in common with King Canute.

    |   -10