26 June 1998
Calls for new badger cull as bovine TB spreads

FARMERS have called for a badger cull to prevent the spread of tuberculosis (TB) to cattle herds.

The cost to farms with TB-infected herds is running at up to £30 million a year because of quarantine restrictions and the reduced value of infected animals, farmers say.

Badgers, whose numbers have risen by over 75% in 10 years and now number more than 400,000, are believed to be the main source of TB in cattle, probably by contaminating pasture with their urine.

Ben Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, said: “If the disease is allowed to continue unchecked, the nations cattle population could well be under threat.”

The number of herds reporting new TB outbreaks each year rose from 143 in 1990 to 515 in 1997, according to Ministry of Agriculture figures.