Dee Finney's blog

start date July 20, 2011

Today's date  March 11, 2012

page 166

UPDATE 3-21-12 -  culling called off   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-17435827

updated October 15, 2012   CULLING BEING DEBATED ONCE MORE

updated October 29, 2012   CULLING IS A BLOODY MESS

updated March 11, 2013  WATCH THE VIDEO:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GR6zr8MCGY&feature=share


Do the math on this one. Cost of bTB to 3.65 million. Cost of cull over 8 million.

Something is rotten in London.



Badger culls 'could increase TB levels'

Badgers are generally protected under UK law, but exceptions are allowed for disease prevention

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Planned badger culls in England risk increasing rather than decreasing the spread of TB in cattle, more than 30 animal disease experts have warned.

In a letter to the Observer they call on ministers to halt pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire where badgers - which can carry TB - are to be shot.

They say the pilot culls are too small to provide useful data and risk becoming "a costly distraction".

Defra says the action is necessary to protect cattle from bovine TB.

Last year, 26,000 cattle in England had to be slaughtered after contracting the disease.

The Welsh government has opted for a system of vaccination while Scotland is officially TB-free.

'Limited benefits'

Academics from the UK, as well as US universities, write that "as scientists with expertise in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing cattle TB rather than reducing it".


Unfortunately, culling badgers as planned is very unlikely to contribute to TB eradication”

End Quote
Letter from experts

Signatories include former government chief scientist and Royal Society president Lord May as well as Zoological Society of London president Professor Sir Patrick Bateson.

They say that, even if the increases do not materialise, "the government predicts only limited benefits, insufficient to offset the costs for either farmers or taxpayers".

"Necessarily stringent licensing conditions" mean many TB-affected areas of England will remain ineligible for such culling, they say.

They add: "Unfortunately, culling badgers as planned is very unlikely to contribute to TB eradication.

"We therefore urge the government to reconsider its strategy."

Supporters of the badger culls, which could begin in Somerset and Gloucestershire within days, say that, with no effective vaccines currently available, they are the best means of trying to tackle the disease.

The pilot schemes, which aim to assess the effectiveness of the government's plan to slow down the spread of TB in cattle in England, will be monitored by an independent group for a period of six weeks.

If the body is satisfied that the culls are effective and humane it will advise ministers to continue the trials for four years - which could pave the way for further applications.

'Crazy' scheme

The government's plan is based on the results of a nine-year trial which showed the spread of the disease could be slowed slightly if more than 70% of badgers in an area could be eradicated.

But if it was less than 70%, the spread of TB could increase, it found.

It's very hard to see how Defra are going to collect the crucial data to assess whether it's worth going ahead with free shooting at all”

End Quote
Lord Krebs

Last month, scientist Lord Krebs, whose research is being cited by the government to justify its culls, told BBC News the scheme was "crazy".

He said the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which was administering the scheme, had no way of knowing how many badgers there were in the areas and so would not know when 70% of the animals had been killed.

"I would go down the vaccination and biosecurity route rather than this crazy scheme that may deliver very small advantage, may deliver none," said Lord Krebs, who has also signed the letter.

"And it's very hard to see how Defra are going to collect the crucial data to assess whether it's worth going ahead with free shooting at all."

Defra Minister David Heath has said the department's priority is to make sure any culling of badgers is carried out in a safe, humane and effective way.

He said the licences for pilots issued met strict criteria imposed and they would "help us assess the effectiveness of controlled shooting before we look at a wider roll out to control the spread of bovine TB in cattle".

"No-one wants to kill badgers but the science is clear that we will not get on top of this disease without tackling it in both wildlife and cattle."


In the Forest of Dean, all sides of the debate say badger cull is 'a bloody mess'

Cull's opponents are celebrating but farmers, politicians and campaigners agree fight against bovine TB has been botched


Steve Jones thought the shooting of badgers would begin.

"It's a mess, a bloody mess," was farmer Carol Wainwright's blunt assessment. "The government's messed the whole thing up. It's disgusting. They've put us through all this, promised they're going to sort out the problem and then at the last minute they give up."

For once, people on both sides of the debate agreed. Whether they were for the badger cull or opposed to it, they tended to agree the policy had been badly botched. "I can't believe that at the very last moment they've said it's not going ahead," said Wainwright, who farms in the planned cull area in Gloucestershire. "It's a disgrace."

Steve Jones, a farm manager in the Forest of Dean and a vocal critic of culling, said he had thought the shooting would at least begin. "I thought it would be derailed. But I thought the train would at least get out of the station," he said. "This just goes to show how flawed the cull was. Public opinion is against it, science is against it, common sense is against it."

Jones feels hugely sorry for the farmers who are having to cope with bovine TB but believes they need to do more – and be helped to do more – to improve animal husbandry and biosecurity on their farms. "Dairy farmers have a really big problem. The price of milk is so low that these farms are becoming more and more impoverished. They can't afford to look after the animals in the way they need to be looked after," he said.

Roger Yeates, a Forest of Dean farmer and Conservative councillor, said the planned cull had been badly handled. "I didn't think shooting badgers was the way to go – that would mean killing the healthy ones that were running about; the infected ones tend to stay underground. I'm pleased it's off."

The Forest of Dean district council had voted to ban badger culling on its land and was calling on all landowners within its boundary to do the same.

Jackie Fraser, the Labour councillor who proposed the motion to ban culling, gave a tentative welcome to the government's move "I'm pleased but cautious. I hope the government is going to look seriously at other ways of tackling bovine TB, like vaccinating cattle and improving biosecurity."

The campaign group Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting expressed delight. Liz Gaffer, a spokeswoman, admitted she had tears in her eyes when she heard. "We are so, so pleased to hear this news. We hope the government will not just delay but will decide not to pursue a cull as the evidence is clear that culling badgers is not the most effective, efficient or humane way of reducing bovine TB.

"People in Gloucestershire have voiced their concern over the rationale behind it and the safety issues involved. We believe the government may have taken this on board and we will continue to campaign for a vaccination programme of cattle and badgers that we believe will really support farmers who are faced with this awful disease."

For now, the saboteurs, who had been ready to get out into the cull zones wearing in high-visibility jackets and carrying horns and rape alarms, can stand down.

Over the last few months experienced saboteurs have been joined by many newcomers to the animal rights scene, keen to map setts and disrupt the cull.

Kayleigh, an activist who took the Guardian out on a sett-mapping expedition, spent the morning handing out leaflets outside a supermarket in Bristol to flag up the fact that it stocked milk from places where badgers were going to be culled.

The plan was for a few drinks later to celebrate. "It's fantastic news; it takes the pressure off us a bit and we can have a bit of a break but we'll continue to survey setts and continue to prepare. We'll also be making sure farmers don't start taking the law into their own hands."

Jay Tiernan, a leader in the Stop the Cull organisation, which champions direct action, said he would carry on fighting the cull until the government announced that it had been dropped permanently. "There are a lot of new people who have come to the movement in the last few months. They won't be going anywhere and will be ready to get out there if needed."



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Badger cull opponents 'secure' Commons debate

Kevin Dowling Published: 14 October 2012


Campaigners opposed to the badger cull planned in western England say they have secured a debate in the House of Commons against it and are planning a million-strong march on Westminster.

Brian May, the Queen guitarist, will lead the protest outside parliament on the day of the debate.

This weekend Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, whose constituency is close to one of the cull zones, came out against the policy, saying he found it “difficult to justify”.

The Commons debate has been secured after an online petition started by May secured 100,000 signatures.

It calls on the government to halt plans to kill badgers as a means of reducing the level of tuberculosis in cattle.


**Wed 10 Oct 12**

Badger TrustQueen guitarist and animal welfare campaigner, Brian May, will travel to Brussels today to campaign for a change in European regulations which would allow vaccination of cattle in the fight against Bovine TB.

May will be in Brussels with the RSPCA Chief Executive, Gavin Grant, and will meet a range of decision-makers and influencers, including the senior officials in the Environment and Agriculture directorates general of the European Commission, senior British MEPs and the British Vice-President of the European Parliament.

This is the latest step by May as front-person in the hard fought campaign to prevent the implementation of the badger cull given the go-ahead by the UK Government, which has already seen licences granted for the slaughter of badgers in test trials in the UK countryside, and which May and fellow anti-cull partners vigorously oppose.

May said, “We are all focussed on the battle to eradicate bovine TB. What is absolutely clear from the available scientific evidence is that vaccination of cattle and badgers, along with bio-security and movement controls in the farming industry, is the only way to make meaningful progress. We believe this is where the Government and the National Farmers Union should be directing their attention, rather than on a scientifically flawed and ethically unjustifiable cull of badgers, which has been sold to the farmers as a solution, but in fact cannot even begin to solve their problems, and may well make matters worse.”

The Team Badger campaign, which was launched in London last month as a partnership between all of the UK’s leading animal welfare NGOs, has continued to gather momentum. On Tuesday 9th October, the petition to stop the cull, on the Government’s e-Petitions website, surpassed the 150,000 mark.

Anne Brummer, Chief Executive of the Save Me Campaign, said, “When DEFRA Secretary Owen Paterson told the Conservative Party Conference that the cull would not be “knocked off course by a few extremists” he was actually referring to more than 150,000 of the people he should be representing. This cull is beyond doubt enormously unpopular with the public, who correctly perceive it as a tragic mistake.

“The people have sent a message to the Government that this cull should stop. We now need to have that debate in Parliament based on the available scientific evidence, and without recourse to wild extrapolations. If the Government have any respect for democracy at all, they will ensure that not a single badger is harmed until that debate has taken place.”

Gavin Grant, Chief Executive of the RSPCA, said, “We need urgent action from the European Union to help our cows, badgers and embattled dairy farmers. The European Commission must meet its own 2014 deadline to approve a cattle vaccine and endorse the DIVA test that differentiates between infected and vaccinated cows. Members of the European Parliament must press for the resources to make this happen.

“UK MPs of all Parties must now stand-up and be counted. Parliament should reject the cull and back vaccination. The UK Government must be led by science and respect the people. Let Parliament speak for good science and the well-being of our fellow creatures.”

The badger cull is opposed by a growing number of animal welfare organisations, including RSPCA, Save Me, Stroud 100, Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, Animal Aid, Network for Animals, International Fund for Animal Welfare, League Against Cruel Sports, Humane Society International/UK, The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Blue Badger, Born Free, Peta, and RSPB.




  • >

    Advisers warned government on badger cull

     Badger (photo by Mark Bridger from BBC Autumnwatch Flickr group)

    Advisors warned that the cull could breach a European wildlife protection treaty

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    UK badger culling plans could kill tens of thousands of the animals, worsen the cattle tuberculosis problem, and put the country in breach of a European wildlife treaty, advisers have warned.

    The government is to allow culling in England to curb cattle TB, with a similar move possible in Wales.

    The Labour Party used Freedom of Information (FoI) laws to obtain advice given by Natural England.

    It highlights aspects of ministers' plans that are not backed by science.

    Earlier this month, campaigners said they were seeking leave for a judicial review of the government's position.

    The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will allow two pilot culls this year in areas of about 150 sq km each, in west Gloucestershire and west Somerset.

    If they are judged to be a success, a further 10 areas could be opened for culling each year, up to a maximum of about 40, under licences issued by Natural England.

    Better, or worse?

    Start Quote

    Ministers should listen to the scientists and can this cull”

    End Quote Mary Creagh MP Shadow environment secretary

    Defra sees the move as part of a package of bovine TB control measures that will prove beneficial in highly affected areas, alongside restrictions on cattle movements and enhanced biosecurity on farms.

    The disease costs the UK public purse about £100m per year.

    The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), the biggest scientific investigation of culling anywhere in the world, found that it can reduce incidence of TB in farm herds provided it is done in large areas with a large proportion of badgers being killed virtually simultaneously, and that it is sustained for at least four years.

    Without this rigour, it found, culling can increase disease spread because it perturbs the badgers, making them roam further and infect new farms.

    In the documents obtained by Labour, Natural England warns explicitly that the only badger-culling regime backed by science is that used in the RBCT.

    The RBCT ('Krebs') Trial

    • 30 areas of the country selected, each 100 sq km
    • 10 culled proactively, 10 reactively, 10 not culled
    • Badgers culled through being caught in cage and then shot
    • Incidence of bovine TB measured on farms inside and outside study areas
    • Reactive culling suspended early after significant rise in infection
    • Trial cost £7m per year
    • More than 11,000 badgers killed
    • Latest follow-up studies equivocal on whether benefit of proactive culling is maintained

    "While it is reasonable to assume that replicating the RBCT approach would deliver similar benefits in a future cull, it is far from certain that these benefits could be delivered via the farmer and landowner-led approach that has been proposed."

    In the RBCT, culls were performed by trapping badgers and shooting them, and each area had to be covered within 10 days.

    By contrast, the government will allow the much cheaper option of "free-shooting" by trained marksmen across a six-week period, which one former government ecologist has dubbed "a recipe for perturbation".

    The FoI documents show that Natural England warned "there is no evidence to support "any approach less onerous than the 10-day window.

    Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh MP said the documents confirmed that Defra had "ignored scientists' advice" on the issue.

    "The scientists confirm that the government's cull could spread TB in cattle if farmers fail to oversee an effective cull," she said.

    "Ministers should listen to the scientists and cancel this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife."

    A Defra spokesman told BBC News that the government "had taken on board" all responses to its consultation.

    "Culling will only take place in the localised areas where it will make a difference, the number of licences to cull badgers will be limited, the licence will specify the maximum number of badgers that can be controlled, and the number of animals controlled will be monitored to guard against local disappearance," he said.

    However, the six-week window aspect of the plans was not changed in response to Natural England's submissions, issued in January and July last year.

    Prepared for take-up

    How popular culling will prove with farmers is unclear. Much is likely to depend on experiences in the two pilot areas.

    Cattle testing for TB Animal welfare groups propose further enhancements to cattle testing, rather than culling

    If farmers embrace it enthusiastically, Natural England warns there could be a substantial impact on badger populations.

    If 40 areas are eventually licensed and if each has an area of about 350km, it calculates that "the cumulative maximum [badger deaths] that might be reached under the policy is about 90,000 to 130,000 in total".

    It continues: "It is unlikely that the survival of the badger nationally would be jeopardised by culling but the local disappearance of the badger in some areas cannot be ruled out if culling is carried out at a large scale."

    Killing badgers is generally prohibited under the UK Protection of Badgers Act, with exceptions allowed for disease prevention.

    The Badger Trust is already challenging the government on this aspect of its plans, arguing that reducing incidence by 12-16%, as Defra projects, does not constitute "prevention".

    Another animal charity, Humane Society International (HSI), is seeking judgement that the government is breaching the EU Bern Convention on protection of wildlife.

    Among other things, the convention says that governments "shall prohibit... the use of all means capable of causing local disappearance of, or serious disturbance to, populations of a species..."

    HSI's case may be bolstered by the revelation that Natural England specifically warned the government: "If implemented on a large scale... it is our opinion that culling poses a significant risk of contravening Articles 8 and 9 of the Bern Convention".

    The government has included in its guidance on issuing licences: "Natural England should aim to ensure that culling will 'not be detrimental to the survival of the population concerned' within the meaning of Article 9 of the Bern Convention".

    Last year, wildlife groups began programmes of vaccination, and they believe this will in the end remove any need for culling.

    The Welsh government is due to announce its decision on a proposed pilot cull in West Wales early this year.

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    1. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ... Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of cattle and one of the biggest challenges facing the ...
      www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases/a-z/bovine-tb - Cached
    2. ... of wild animals as reservoirs of the Mycobacterium (e.g. badgers in the UK ... Eradication of TB in animals has been a long term goal of the U. S. Department of ...
      www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/TB/TBMain.htm - Cached
    3. tuberculosis TB of cattle and implications for human health ... Tuberculosis is a disease affecting animals and humans. In cattle it is caused by Mycobacterium ...
      www.ukagriculture.com/livestock/tuberculosis.cfm - Cached
    4. This is the old Defra Website - our current information is at www.defra.gov.uk That site may temporarily link to older information here that remains relevant ...
      archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/... - Cached
    5. UK (GB) Bovine TB Eradication Plan - Summary note. On 15 September 2009 the UK government submitted a bovine tuberculosis (TB) Eradication Plan for 2010 to the ...
      archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/... - Cached
    6. (WILDLIFE) In an effort to prevent the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (BTb) to domestic cattle, the UK Government has decided to allow badger killings for ...
      www.globalanimal.org/2012/03/04/uk-badger-cull-to-go... - Cached
    7. Animal diseases to be notified to your local AHVLA can be “endemic” (those which are already present in the UK, such as Bovine TB), “exotic” (those that are not ...
      www.defra.gov.uk/animal-diseases - Cached
    8. An interesting site with useful and interesting discussions on the subject of bovine TB. It is regularly updated.
      www.bovinetb.co.uk/article.php?article_id=40 - Cached
    9. Tuberculosis is a disease which affects the lungs and causes breathing problems and general deterioration in health of an animal. Importantly, there are ...
      www.badgerland.co.uk/animals/threats/tuberculosis.html - Cached
    10. Bovine tuberculosis (TB) Please select the version you require: England ; Scotland (available shortly) Wales; What happens if bovine tuberculosis (TB) has been ...
      animalhealth.defra.gov.uk/.../advice-guidance/bovine-tb.html - Cached

    Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of cattle and one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry today, particularly in the west and south west of England. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer, goats, pigs, camelids (llamas and alcapas), dogs and cats, as well as many other mammals.


    Badgers - a cull the answer?

    Chris Littlejohn, a wildlife photographer from Shropshire, has been filming badgers for around 20 years. Chris has strong feelings about the role badgers play in the spread of bovine TB. Have your say at the bottom of this article.


    The government's Chief Scientist Sir David King has put the thorny and emotive issue of badger culling back in the headlines, advising that killing badgers in some areas could help prevent the spread of bovine TB. He suggested that killing badgers could be effective in areas that could be contained, such as by the sea or motorways. Sir David King's report follows a previous study that suggested that culling badgers would be ineffective at reducing the spread of bovine TB.


    "I don’t feel that removing one of the most special animals in the British countryside is a good way forward in trying to solve this complex issue."

    Chris Littlejohn

    Chris disputes that killing badgers will end the 'crisis', "It still hasn't been proved that by culling badgers you're solving the cattle TB problem... I don't feel that removing one of the most special animals in the British countryside is a good way forward in trying to solve this complex issue."

    The Krebs report

    In 2005, Animal Welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw said TB was at "crisis levels" with 22,705 cattle slaughtered in 2004 compared with 599 in 1986. Both badgers and cattle have been shown to carry bovine TB and there has been much debate around the transmission of the disease between the two species.

    In 1996, Professor John Krebs led an independent review on behalf of the government looking at the transmission of bovine TB between badgers and cattle. The report concluded that 'the sum of evidence strongly supports the view that, in Britain, badgers are a significant source of infection in cattle'

    However, the Krebs report acknowledged that more data was required and recommended a limited badger culling trial.

    The Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) was set up to oversee and monitor the culling experiment. ISG's final report will be published in 2007. However, interim analysis published in October 2005 concluded that: 'reactive culling as performed in the randomised badger culling trial cannot contribute constructively to the control of bovine TB in Britain'.

    The badger culling trial suggested that, while there was a fall in the incidence of bovine TB within culling areas, there was an increase in the surrounding areas. This ripple effect has been said to be due to badgers around the culling area acquiring and spreading the infection further afield.

    The role played by badgers in spreading bovine TB is clearly a complicated issue and one which provokes strong feeling on both sides of the argument. Some claim that badgers do not pass on the disease while others argue too few badgers have been killed to make any effect on levels of bovine TB.

    With the government split, and campaigners like Chris fighting their corner passionately, this theme is sure to last. The government ran a public consultation on the culling of badgers for the control of bovine TB, which closed on 10 March 2006.


    you can protest at the bottom of this page 




    1. Mycobacterium bovis is a slow-growing (16 to 20 hour generation time), aerobic bacterium and the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle (known as bovine TB ...
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_bovis - Cached
      More results from en.wikipedia.org »
    2. Bovine serum albumin, bovine albumin, BSA, also known as "Fraction V", a ... Where does bovine serum albumin come from?




    Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease of both animals and humans. It is caused by three specific types of bacteria that are part of the Mycobacterium group: Mycobacterium bovis, M. avium, and M. tuberculosis. Bovine TB, caused by M. bovis, can be transmitted from livestock to humans and other animals.

    The cooperative Federal-State-Industry effort to eradicate bovine TB from cattle in the United States has made significant progress since the program’s inception in 1917. The disease has nearly been eliminated from the livestock population of the United States. Many consider this one of the great animal and public health achievements in the United States. However, our ultimate goal of eradication remains elusive as animal health officials continue to detect TB sporadically in livestock herds.

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    Welsh badger cull scrapped in favour of vaccination

    Farmers and unions have described the decision not to cull as a betrayal

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    The Welsh government has dropped plans to cull badgers as part of an attempt to wipe out bovine TB in cattle.

    Environment Minister John Griffiths said he had instead opted to vaccinate the animals after carefully considering the scientific evidence.

    A review of the science involved in controlling bovine TB was commissioned after last year's assembly elections.

    The Farmers' Union of Wales attacked a "cowardly betrayal", while the RSPCA said it was "delighted and relieved".

    The previous government had planned a pilot cull of badgers in west Wales.

    But Mr Griffiths revealed on Tuesday that he was scrapping the plan, saying a five-year vaccination programme will start in the intensive action area - the TB hotspot in north Pembrokeshire where the cull was due to take place.

    His decision disappointed farming unions and Labour's political opponents who strongly backed the cull.

    Welsh badger cull: timeline

    • April 2008: A targeted cull of badgers is announced by the then coalition government between Plaid Cymru and Labour.
    • March 2009: Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones reveals the cull will take place in a TB hotspot in west Wales - the intensive action area.
    • January 2010: Ms Jones gives the final go-ahead, almost two years after first revealing her plans.
    • April 2010: The High Court says the cull order is lawful, following a challenge by the Badger Trust.
    • June 2010: The cull is quashed in the Court of Appeal because the terms of the cull order apply to the whole of Wales when the evidence of a consultation only supported a cull in the intensive area.
    • March 2011: The Welsh government revives plans for a cull, eight months after it was shelved.
    • May 2011: Labour promises a "science-led" approach towards bovine TB at Welsh assembly elections.
    • June 2011: The newly-elected Labour government puts the cull on hold and commissions a review of the science.

    Officials hope to start vaccinating within two to three months.

    Badgers will be trapped in cages and marked so they are not vaccinated multiple times.

    Other areas where vaccination might contribute to TB eradication will be considered.

    Mr Griffiths said he remained committed to eradicating a "terrible disease" that had "devastating" consequences.

    Deciding to cull would have to be justified on the basis that it was necessary to substantially reduce bovine TB in cattle, he told AMs in the Senedd chamber.

    "At present I am not satisfied that a cull of badgers would be necessary to bring about a substantial reduction in cases of TB in cattle," Mr Griffiths added.

    It is understood ministers had advice that a cull might not survive a legal challenge under the Animal Health Act 1981.

    The cull was drawn up under the previous Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition Welsh government. At last May's election, Labour said it would take a science-led approach to the policy.

    The previous government first announced a cull of badgers in April 2008, but it was halted in the courts after an appeal by conservationists. The plans were revived last March, before being put on hold by Labour when it commissioned a scientific review.

    Opponents have accused the minister of delaying since a 13-page report by the review panel arrived on his desk in December.

    'Totally unacceptable'

    Plaid's former Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, who drew up the plans for a cull, said: "Farmers will now have to decide how best to protect their cattle and I for one would not blame them for anything they do."

    Deputy minister for agriculture Alun Davies said her comments were "totally unacceptable".

    Farmers in the action area have been subject to a raft of extra controls on their cattle since 2010, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said.

    FUW TB spokesman Brian Walters said: "Those who have now gone back on their words have not just betrayed farmers in north Pembrokeshire but the industry as a whole. They should hang their heads in shame."

    NFU Cymru deputy president Stephen James said the decision would leave diseased badgers "continuing to roam the countryside infecting more cattle with the disease for which there is yet no known cure".

    Start Quote

    It is now time for the British government to wholeheartedly commit to a programme of vaccination”

    End Quote Brian May

    British Veterinary Association president Carl Padgett said it was a "political decision, rather than a scientific one", that would "potentially set back our efforts to tackle this devastating disease by many years".

    Welsh Conservative rural affairs spokeswoman Antoinette Sandbach said the minister had "hamstrung the eradication programme by abandoning culling, despite voting in favour of that policy less than a year ago".

    Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesman William Powell said: "There will continue to be a dangerous vacuum in this policy area which could be filled by twilight operators and others who despair in the face of this devastating virus."

    Rock star Brian May, who has long campaigned against the cull plan, said he was thrilled at the news.

    "It is now time for the British government to wholeheartedly commit to a programme of vaccination - the only route which can guarantee, long term, the elimination of bovine TB from our British countryside," he said.

    RSPCA Cymru external affairs manager Claire Lawson said badger vaccination had 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".

    Campaign group Pembrokeshire Against the Cull said it was "delighted" by a "brave decision" to reject culling.

    In a statement, it said: "We are sure that there will be much relief, especially from those worried about the potential impact on tourism from culling, and cross-community support for this approach within the intensive action area."




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