The Welsh Rural Affairs Minister this week announced that a pilot scheme to cull thousands of badgers in Wales will start later this year, after the badger breeding season has finished in May. The £9m pilot cull will take place across a 288 sq.km area, mainly in Pembrokeshire, and will see five culls take place over the course of several years.
In making the announcement, the Minister, Elin Jones, said that bovine TB is “out of control” in Wales, and stated that the compensation bill for farmers was £24m in 2009, a rise from £1m in 2000. 12,000 cattle were culled in 2008 due to bovine TB.
The move has been welcomed by the British Veterinary Association and by farmers but condemned by others, citing the ten-year study by the Independent Scientific Group which showed the culling badgers could actually increase the risk of spreading the disease, conluding that “while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better.”
Previous posts relating to the ISG report, the subsequent report by Prof. Sir David King, then Government Chief Scientific Advisor, the EFRA Select Committee and news stories on the topic can be found in the BES Blog archive.