'Bio-security must come before any badger cull'

PUBLISHED: 13:16 08 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:02 15 June 2010

A Government decision not to embark on a badger cull in England is the right decision for both badgers and cattle, says the RSPCA. The RSPCA is calling on the Government, as well as farmers and animal welfare groups, to work together to build a long-term

A Government decision not to embark on a badger cull in England is the right decision for both badgers and cattle, says the RSPCA. The RSPCA is calling on the Government, as well as farmers and animal welfare groups, to work together to build a long-term strategy to fight bovine TB. The society strongly supports the Government's decision against a badger cull, and wants to help build a united front against the disease in belief that a TB vaccine for badgers could be licensed within two years and that there should be better funding for bio-security measures, and other assistance in ensuring a disease prevention plan is in place for every farm.The RSPCA's chief scientific officer Alastair MacMillan said: "We all want to stop this disease, and we need a robust, scientific and sustainable plan to fight it in both cattle and badgers." The society believes the scientific evidence against a badger cull is compelling, other organisations such as the National Trust and RSPB have also said they would not take part in a badger cull.Dr Rob Atkinson, the RSPCA's head of wildlife science, said: "The most authoritative research ever undertaken on badger culling took nearly 10 years, cost £34 million and the lives of over 11,000 badgers. "It was concluded that 'badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain'." Dr Atkinson also said: "Our opposition to a badger cull is based on solid science, not sentiment. "The RSPCA cares as much about cattle welfare as badgers, so we are keen to work with farmers and the Government to find positive solutions to the challenge of TB in cattle." The RSPCA concluded that it is not possible to cull only diseased badgers because there is no reliable test to identify them. Evidence shows that most badgers are not infected with TB - this means that most badgers killed in a widespread cull would have been likely to be disease-free. It was also concluded that cattle-based measures alone could bring the disease under control: "Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone."Have your say on this subject. Fill out a comment form or email midweek@archant.co.uk

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