Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Relief at plans to shelve badger cull in Wales in favour of vaccination programme

The RSPCA is delighted and relieved that the Welsh Government has decided not to proceed with plans put forward by the previous government for a badger cull in the Intensive Action Area.

The relief follows an announcement made by the Welsh Government that it will not now be carrying out a cull in North Pembrokeshire as part of a package of measures which aim to tackle the problem of bovine TB in cattle, but will be investing in a five year vaccination programme instead, which will begin in the summer.

The cull had been on hold since June after the Environment Minister announced that an independent Bovine TB Science Review Panel would review the scientific evidence. Whilst recognising that Bovine TB is a very real issue in some areas, the animal welfare charity supports the conclusion of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) that 'badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.'

The RSPCA believes that there are other measures that could be used to control Bovine TB, including vaccination and increased cattle control.

Claire Lawson, external affairs manager for RSPCA Cymru said: "The RSPCA recognises that Bovine TB in cattle causes massive hardship for farmers in endemic areas and that there needs to be a sustainable and humane solution. The Society bases its animal welfare stance on moral and ethical values of care and compassion, but relies on sound science to inform its decision-making, formulate its policies, define its strategies, and promote change for the improvement of animal welfare. 

"Badger vaccination has already been shown to significantly reduce the prevalence and severity of disease in the badger population and could reduce the potential for transmission of TB from badgers to cattle.

"We therefore still strongly believe that vaccination coupled with the increased levels of cattle testing, improved bio-security and control on the movement of cattle is the way forward."

* The Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB (ISG) examined the science behind a badger cull. It published its final report in 2007 which was the result of painstaking research over nearly ten years,
taking the lives of about 11,000 badgers and costing taxpayers £50 million. It concluded that killing badgers could actually increase the spread of bTB, making matters worse rather than better. It said, "badger
culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain",

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