28 June 2002

Badger TBlink claim

SCIENTISTS claim they have potential evidence showing how badgers could pass on bovine tuberculosis to cattle.

Researchers from Sussex University and the Central Science Laboratory filmed badgers foraging in cowsheds, feed sheds and cattle troughs. Although farmers have reported badgers in farm buildings before, the scientists were surprised. The frequency of the visits could pass on TB, they said.

The findings were published in a Royal Society paper yesterday (June 28), prompting the NFU to claim that the potential for TB transmission from badgers to cattle was far greater than had previously been thought. Farmers should do all they can to stop badgers coming into contact with cattle, the union said.

Herefordshire farmer Tim Brooke added: "This report shows that farms are under siege. Biosecurity measures are an important part of the battle to beat TB, but a policy to eradicate the disease from the badger population once and for all is the only real long-term solution."

But conservationists said the research was weak and questioned the validity of the findings. The National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) pointed out that the badgers had been filmed inside farm buildings between May and October when most cattle are at pasture. &#42

NFBG chief executive Elaine King said: "Small and family farmers should receive grant aid to improve farm biosecurity in the interests of preventing a whole range of infectious diseases in cattle, of which TB is but one. We find it extraordinary that, instead, precious resources are being spent on poor research which fails to identify a single useful solution to the TB problem."