Badger culling is widened to 11 new areas across England in ramped-up effort to stop tuberculosis killing cattle and costing the economy £100million per year
- Government has announced it will be expanding badger culling to 11 new areas
- It means controversial cull will take place in 40 areas across England this year
- Opponents claim it means that more than 60,000 badgers will be killed in 2019
- However, the government says that the move will help tackle Bovine TB in cattle
Badger culling will be extended to 11 new areas as part of efforts to control tuberculosis in cattle, the Government has announced.
The controversial culls will go ahead in new areas in Avon, Cheshire, Cornwall, Staffordshire, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire and Wiltshire, under licences published by government agency Natural England.
The move, alongside the reauthorisation of licences in 29 existing areas, means the culling will take place in 40 areas across England this year.
Expansion of the cull, aimed at preventing transmission of the disease to livestock, was met with anger by wildlife campaigners, who said it would mean more than 60,000 badgers would be killed from Cornwall to Cumbria.
But farming minister George Eustice said: ‘Bovine TB remains the greatest animal health threat to the UK, costing taxpayers over £100 million every year as well as causing devastation and distress for hard-working farmers and rural communities.
‘There is no single measure that will provide an answer to beating this disease.
The government has announced that its controversial plan to cull badgers will now be extended to 11 more areas (stock)
‘That is why we have always been committed to a multi-pronged approach including proactive badger control as well as other tools such as tighter cattle controls, improved biosecurity and badger vaccination.’
It comes after a former government adviser claimed that as many as 9,000 badgers took longer than five minutes to die after being shot as part of the culls.
Professor Ranald Munro and 19 other vets, scientists and animal welfare campaigners wrote to Natural England to warn them that their culls are causing ‘huge suffering’ and are ineffective in reducing TB in cattle.
An independent review commissioned by the Government into its strategy for tackling TB in livestock also warned against an ‘over-emphasis’ on the role of badgers.
Professor Sir Charles Godfray, who led the review, said spread of the disease between cattle was a bigger part of the problem than badgers and farmers must do more to tackle the spread of tuberculosis between livestock.
Experts involved in the review last year suggested the totality of the evidence on badger culling showed a real but modest effect in curbing TB.
Mr Eustice said the Government would be responding to the review in the near future.
Opponents of the government’s culling plan say that 60,000 badgers would be killed (stock)
Ellie Brodie, senior policy manager at The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘Evidence shows that badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of TB in cattle and that the primary route of infection is from cow-to-cow contact – so a vaccine for cattle should be a government priority.’
She said Wildlife Trusts had been and would continue to vaccinate badgers on their reserves and in partnership with vets, farmers and landowners.
In Derbyshire, an application to cull was refused at the last minute last week amid a Government review of the role of culling in an area where a vaccination scheme was already under way.
Quizzed by MPs on the move to block the Derbyshire cull, Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the Government’s overall policy was ‘unchanged’ and the decision related to local circumstances.
Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust, criticised the Government signing off on ‘the largest destruction of protected species in living memory’.
He said as a result of the new licences more than 60,000 badgers were likely to be killed in areas from Cornwall to Cumbria, bringing the total to some 130,000 since the policy was introduced in 2013.
And he said: ‘For the Government to carry out such a huge slaughter of a protected species at a time when no parliamentary scrutiny can take place is an unforgivable act of ecological vandalism and a national disgrace.’
The other areas where the cull is carried out include Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Somerset.
WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS AND IS IT MAKING A COMEBACK IN BRITAIN?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread between people by coughing and sneezing.
The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system.
At the beginning of the 19th century, TB killed at least one in seven people in England. But today – thanks to improvements in health, faster diagnoses and effective antibiotics – less than six per cent of those with TB are killed by the disease, with just under 4,672 cases reported in the UK in 2018.
Despite these improvements, in 2010 a report into TB in London and Britain as a whole found that the number of cases in the capital had risen by almost 50 per cent from 1999.
Professor Alimuddin Zumla of University College London attributed the rise to people living under ‘Victorian’ conditions, with poor housing, inadequate ventilation and overcrowding in certain deprived areas of London.
He also said the increase in TB cases was predominantly among people born outside Britain, but who appear to have been infected in the UK, rather than in their country of origin.
The infection usually affects the lungs but the bacteria can cause problems in any part of the body, including the abdomen, glands, bones and the nervous system
TB infection causes symptoms like fever, coughing, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness and fatigue, a loss of appetite and swellings in the neck.
If the immune system fails to contain TB bacteria the infection can take weeks or months to take hold and produce symptoms, and if it is left untreated it can be fatal.
TB is most common in less developed countries in sub-saharan and west Africa, southeast Asia, Russia, China and South America.
Researchers in Wales said that of those infected with this disease in 2017, 55 per cent were born outside the UK.
Although, 20 per cent had at least one of the following social risk factors:
- Being in prison
- IV drug use
- Poor housing or homelessness
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