25 February 2000

Badger culling trial running

months behind

THE scientist in charge of the governments badger culling trial has admitted that the experiment is running behind schedule and will take longer than originally anticipated.

Clearing badgers from trial areas in an attempt to reveal whether the animals pass tuberculosis to cattle will be completed by autumn 2001 – nine months later than expected. Only three out of the 10 sites have been cleared of badgers, said John Bourne, chairman of the Independent Scientific Group.

"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," he told the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers conference in Malvern on Wednesday (Feb 23).

The earlier aim of having all triplet sites running during 1998 was impractical, Prof Bourne admitted. He added that more work on TB in cattle is needed if the battle against the disease is to be won. He said: "We have a reservoir on infection in cattle and it must be controlled." &#42