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Wildlife experts move to oppose badger cull

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: March 03, 2014

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DERBYSHIRE Wildlife Trust is urging the Government to abandon plans to roll out its culling policy and find a better solution to tackling the disease, Bovine Tuberculosis.

The Derbyshire and Staffordshire border has been identified as another hotspot for the disease and a cull could be carried out in Derbyshire this year.

An independent expert panel was appointed by Defra to help evaluate the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of two pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Paul Wilkinson, head of living landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We understand the Independent Expert Panel report finds the pilot badger culls failed on the grounds of effectiveness and humaneness.

“This failure reinforces our serious concerns that if unsuccessful the culls could make matters worse. The Government must take a long hard look at the findings and reconsider its policy on tackling this disease.”

The badger cull is being undertaken as part of measures against the devastating impacts of the disease, which is carried and transmitted by badgers and other wildlife, as well as cattle, and costs the UK cattle farming industry millions of pounds every year.

The trust believes that badger culls will not be effective in tackling Bovine TB and could make the problem worse as culling provokes disturbed behaviour amongst badgers, including territorial disputes and biting, and movement between normally settled social groups. This results in an increased transference of bovine TB between infected and healthy badgers and cattle, through animals escaping cull zones and spreading the disease to new areas.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been fund-raising for a badger vaccination programme, which will begin this spring. The trust has already achieved its original target of £50,000 and is continuing to appeal for support to enable it to vaccinate more badgers in the county. Experts at the trust believe that the vaccine will control TB by creating immunity in a population of Derbyshire badgers.

The trust’s conservation manager Tim Birch said: “Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is working hard with partners throughout Derbyshire, including the National Farmers’ Union, to ensure that our vaccination programme for badgers is ready to begin in early May. We look forward to helping farmers and also badgers as we move forward with badger vaccination.”

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