19 May 1995

A3000 toll in badger culls

MAFF estimates fewer than 3000 badgers will be killed inculls aimed at reducing the spread of tuberculosis to cattle this year.

"This in no way represents a threat to the species whose Great Britain population is estimated at about 250,000 adult badgers," said junior farm minister Angela Browning in a written reply to a Commons question.

In the past year MAFF had invested £543,000 in Central Veterinary Laboratory work to develop better ways of diagnosing TB in cattle and badgers. Preliminary results were encouraging, she said.

It had invested another £217,000 to find a vaccine to protect badgers against TB. Work started at the CVL in April 1994 but it would take about 15 years to complete.

The ministry had also provided £370,000 in 1994/95 for ecological and epidemiological studies of a badger population infected with TB in Gloucestershire.

A further £138,000 had been invested in producing mathematical models of badger populations to help develop TB control strategies.