23 February 2000
Badger cull running nine months late

By FWi staff

CLEARING badgers from areas in the TB triplet site study will be completed by autumn 2001 – some nine months later than anticipated.

John Bourne, chairman of the Independent Scientific Group, told the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers conference in Malvern, Worcestershire, that despite initial delays three sites had now been cleared of badgers.

The triplet study aims to compare clearing badgers from 104km2 areas, with equal-sized areas where badgers are reactively culled after a breakdown and a control with no culling on the incidence of cattle TB at 10 sites.

“In total, seven sites will be cleared of badgers by the end of this year and the remaining three cleared by August or September of 2001,” Prof Bourne.

This was nine months behind the ISGs August 1998 prediction.

But he admitted that the earlier aim of having all triplet sites running during 1998 was impractical.

However, this timetable had received government support when there was tremendous pressure to stop the trial, he said.

“But the triplet trial is just one area of the work we are doing,” he added. The aim of all these projects is to develop a sustainable control policy for TB.

He believes more work on TB in cattle is needed and recommended this in the ISGs second report published last week.

“We have a reservoir on infection in cattle and it must be controlled,” said Prof Bourne.

His main concern is that the diagnostic test is less than 100% effective, and that animals with TB are being left in herds after a breakdown.