Details of Welsh badger cull revealed

THE Welsh Assembly will not announce the exact start date of its badger cull in West Wales as part of plans to eradicate bovine TB, although it will begin soon as the finer details of how it will take place are confirmed.

This week will see the finishing touches put to work detailing the precise numbers of badgers within the cull area, in readiness for what as near as possible will be a total clean sweep of the 288 square kilometre pilot area.

That will be helped by the fact the target area in north Pembrokeshire and adjoining parts of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion has natural boundaries, so largely eliminating the risk of re-population by fresh badgers from outside.

All but a handful of the 1,500 or so landowners in the target area are also said to have fully co-operated with Assembly officials drawing up the eradication plan and for the few who are opposed to the cull, legal powers of entry have been obtained.

Within the cull areas cages will be left open for several days before any shooting takes place in order not to disturb natural badger movements.

In response to its wildlife support group critics the Assembly also remains firmly convinced that the cull can significantly reduce the incidence of TB in both cattle and in badgers and that it is still early days to rely on vaccination without any evidence of it being effective.

Over the past 10 years, more than £100,000,000 has been spent in Wales on controlling TB, with the cost to the taxpayer in compensation to farmers having increased from around £1m in 2000, to just below £24m in 2009.

More than 11,000 cattle were slaughtered for TB in 2010, compared to just under 700 in 1997, justifying the view that the disease “is out of control”.

Officials stress the disease is already being tackled in cattle across Wales in order to limit and reduce the spread of infection, but a more aggressive approach is deemed necessary in areas where the disease is a really serious problem - and that involves tackling the wildlife source of infection as well.

Within the cull area 42 per cent of cattle owners have had at least one case of TB in their herd since 2003 and it is regarded a one of the most serious TB problem areas in Britain.

Between January 2005 and December 2008, 58 per cent of the compensation paid in Wales was paid to farmers in the west Wales region.

From May 1, enhanced cattle measures will also be in place in the pilot area, including the testing of most cattle herds every six months and all breakdowns, whether or not confirmed by post mortem, requiring two clear 60-day tests before official TB-free status can be regained and movement restrictions lifted.

The intention is to remove around 1,500 badgers over a five-year period, with it expected to take up to three years before any reduction in TB in cattle is seen within the area.

Every shot badger will be tested and the findings are to be made public.

Readers' comments (32)

  • "the Assembly also remains firmly convinced that the cull can significantly reduce the incidence of TB in both cattle and in badgers"

    What? They think it will reduce TB in badgers despite the science showing the exact opposite?

    I sincerely hope that is a misquote.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Five years down the line when Elin Jones and her ministry mercenaries have botched this, causing rural disharmony and pouring our taxes into a small area of Pembrokeshire, what will be the result?
    It wont get rid of bTB here or elsewhere, and at present trends there will be less than 1000 dairy producers left in Wales. did I say botched this.. Maybe that's what, Europe and WAG really wanted: no more expensive compensation for dairy farmers in Wales?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • According to reports, the cull will give just a 6-9% reduction for only 2 years, following 5 years of culling at a cost of over £10 million and rising!. There has been no assessment of the indirect costs on businesses and, surprisingly WAG has undertaken no cost benefit analysis!  Bovine TB is only a negligible health risk according to the WHO and one does wonder why so much money is therefore being thrown at trying to eradicate it (rather than control it). What about Echinococcus? It is far more dangerous to humans than bovine TB, it is endemic in Wales, there are human cases (requiring major surgery to treat – human bTB can be treated with antibiotics) but virtually nothing is done about it. And then there is Toxoplasmosis, Q fever….all ignored.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sounds like sour grapes from the badger hugging brigade! If TB is left in wildlife untouched, it won't be long before it costs the economy in excess of £10m. TB will be a thing of the past in Wales within the next 5 years if this project is allowed to go ahead without interfearance from protestors and village idiots who have no idea about the real burden and destruction that TB actually causes

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Successful TB control can be compared with a three legged stool: testing and removal of infected cattle; control of movement from infected herds; control of wildlife. Like a stool all three legs need to be in place.

    This was a quote taken from Paul Rodgers, a practising vet with more than 30 years’ experience.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In Northern Ireland the herd incidence of bTB fell from 9.95% in 2002 to 5.35% in 2007.

    This was done without a cull.

    This was done with the greater testing and movement controls in N Ireland.

    In 2008 and 2009 the rate has remained at near 5.35%.

    If bTB rates have rocketed in Wales, it could be argued that this is due o the opposition the farmers' unions in Wales who would not agree with a cull without a cull.

    Shoot self in foot?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There will be no badger cull in England if the Tories win the election. See their manifesto.

    What they are offering only "badger control".

    Can't use the "cull" word, can you?


    But then Cameron's only real job was in PR.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The River Teifi is not a hard boundary as WAG suggest otherwise they would not have surveyed on the North bank. Just an example of mission creep and blindness to logic. If anyone can be bothered to look at the science you'll realise that so called badger huggers are not village idiots, rather very well informed experts in their field, who can see further than the end of their nose. Wag's assertion that there is also little objection to the cull is nothing but propaganda. There is massive opposition and it will not go unoticed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sorry Huw, you seem to care more about killing badgers than actually sorting the problem where farmers are paying more to produce milk than they get paid for it. The only hope for most family dairy concerns is a payment and reward system that allows them to produce milk in a way that is kinder to both farmers and cows. Otherwise we will all be putting foreign milk in our tea in ten years time.
    Congratulations though on the village idiot prize for your inability to even read the financial information such as it is in the lead article . An inability to understand simple statements and making similes about milking stools and the control of a self inflicted epidemic leads me to the conclusion that 30 years of being a vet does not necessary give anyone a coruscating insight into the complexities of epidemiology or for that matter making quotes that are either edifying or accurate.
    I wonder what odds William Hill would give on bTB or being eradicated in the cull area in five years time? 10 to one against, 100 to one for.. (don't worry about the numbers Huw!)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "...the Assembly also remains firmly convinced that the cull can significantly reduce the incidence of TB in both cattle and in badgers..."

    A truly perverse attitude, since this flies in the face of the findings of the ten-year Independent Scientific Group study that concluded that no such overall reduction would take place and that culls ‘would not meaningfully contribute’ to the reduction of bTB. Clearly there are other, entirely non-scientific reasons, behind the decision.

    On a different matter, I don't think WAG has thought about the implications of such a cull for the area's tourism, which - for good or ill - is far more important financially than the farming sector. I'm a travel journalist for a national newspaper covering mainly UK destinations and I've already written to Elin Jones to tell her that, should the cull take place, I will stop writing about the area (I've written to Ms Jones twice, in fact, but have received no reply). I wouldn't be surprised if other journalists shied away too. After all, 'Come to sunny Pembrokeshire and see the badgers being trapped and shot' isn't really something readers go for.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

Register your email address for Farmers Guardian e-bulletins

Get the latest from Farmers Guardian delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to sign-up today

Already receiving bulletins? Sign-in to edit your preferences