Badger cull 'proceeding to plan' says Environment Secretary
11:53am Monday 2nd September 2013 in News
THE badger cull is 'proceeding to plan’ and organisers are pleased with progress, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said.
Controversial culling of badgers to tackle tuberculosis in cattle got under way last week, with around 5,000 badgers set to be killed over a six-week period in two pilot culls in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.
The pilot culls aim to assess if culling can be done effectively, safely and humanely, with plans to roll out the scheme more widely in areas which are hotspots for TB in cattle.
Farmers and the Government insist culling of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, is needed to stop spiralling rates of the disease in herds.
But opponents say culling the protected animal will have only a small effect on infection rates in cattle and will lead to badgers suffering. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures.
In a written statement to the Commons, Mr Paterson insisted the decision to pilot a badger cull was "not one that has been taken lightly, but it is based on the best available scientific evidence and the experience of other countries’’.
Confirming that culling had got under way, he said: "I understand the pilot cull is proceeding to plan and those involved are pleased with progress to date.’’
He said the cull was being monitored and the evidence gathered on culling would be considered by ministers in deciding whether or not the policy should be rolled out more widely.
And he said culling was just one part of a broader, comprehensive TB eradication strategy for ridding England of the disease over the next 25 years, which also includes disease surveillance and development of new badger and cattle vaccines.
He said: "This pilot cull is a necessary part of a wide range of actions that we need to take if we are to free the cattle industry from the burden of this devastating disease.
"We wish to see healthy cattle living alongside healthy wildlife.’’
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