12 April 1999
‘Badger cull will cause catastrophe’

by FWi staff

THE governments badger cull is likely to cause a new catastrophe in the countryside, according to a feature story in The Guardian today.

The cull, which is about to start again on 1 May after a closed season for breeding, aims to test the hypothesis that badgers give tuberculosis to cattle.

This is potentially a much bigger problem than BSE, Gloucestershire farmer Jay Greenwood tells the newspaper.

My biggest fear is that the public gets it into its head that theres TB in milk and we get a milk scare. Its going to get worse and worse.

Roger Bowey, a Forest of Dean vet with 30 years experience in cattle, says: It is unbelievable that a potentially fatal human disease can be tolerated in wildlife.

Elaine King, conservation officer with the National Federation of Badger Groups, points out there is no scientifically credible proof that badgers are to blame for TB in cattle.

I think there are a whole lot of causes, she says. Its as if there are 10 lightbulbs and all of them have to be lit up before a cow catches TB.

Badgers may be one of them, but so might intensive farming practices, and lack of trace elements and all sorts of things. Yet over 80% of research effort is into the badgers role.

One dairy farmer, Dennis King believes the badger cull could set farmer against farmer.

Its going to take an awful lot of policing, he says. I dont think theyll get it off the ground. Itll set farmer against farmer. Theyll need bodyguards for the people doing it.