NFU calls for rollout of badger culls

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for a rollout of badger culls to other regions, claiming that the extended pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire have been effective.

The NFU said “there must be a further rollout to other areas where bovine TB is rife as soon as possible following the Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice that the results of this year’s cull show s that culling can be carried out safely, humanely and effectively”.

Nationwide adoption of the badger culling was stalled in April by environment secretary Owen Paterson after concerns over the Somerset and Gloucestershire pilots were raised by the Independent Expert Panel. (hyperlink)

However the NFU believes that reports from continued culling in the West Country now give sufficient evidence to justify the spreading the scheme around the country. It also wants the model of culling to be looked at make it more difficult for operations to be disrupted by “illegal activity” from protesters.

President Meurig Raymond said: “We’ve been told by farmers in the Somerset cull zone that there has been a huge reduction in the number of herds under TB restrictions since culling started in 2013, from 34% to 11%. We will wait for the scientific evidence to come in future years but, until that happens, for farmers in the area this is evidence that culling badgers is working and is helping them tackle this disease.”

Despite the initial rollout being shelved, animal welfare and wildlife groups were angered by government’s decision to extend the pilots despite what Care for the Wild called “huge question marks over (their) effectiveness and humaneness”, and Natural England dubbing the pilots “an epic failure”.

However, the NFU believes recent culls show that progress is being made with the culls. Raymond added: “There are many other areas where bTB is rife and is having a massive impact on farming family businesses which would benefit from the rollout of culling badgers. Following the Chief Veterinary Officer’s advice that badger culling can work, we need the policy to be implemented in other areas next year.”

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