26 March 1999

East Cornwall next for badger culling

THE next triplet of areas to be included in the governments badger culling trial is to be in east Cornwall.

This region was chosen because it has shown one of the largest increases in bovine tuberculosis cases over the past six months.

East Cornwall is the third trial zone to be announced. Over the next two years another seven will be announced.

Farmers within the new triplet will receive letters inviting them to participate in the trial before areas are surveyed and randomly allocated one of three strategies – proactive badger culling, reactive culling or no culling.

Meanwhile, at an NFU meeting within the Hereford, Worcs, Glos area – where one of the first triplets has already been assigned – more than 100 farmers voiced their concerns at the alarming spread of TB.

Brian Jennings, chairman of the unions animal health and welfare committee, pointed out that since the badger protection act was implemented in 1992, badger populations had increased by 86%. "We feel this has had a significant influence on the 40% increase in bovine TB over the last two years," he said.

"When the trial was set up it covered 75% of the TB outbreak areas. Two years on, because of the disease spread, they only cover 50%.

The NFU wants the government to start research in all 10 triplets immediately, rather than staggering the trial over three years.

"Analysts have suggested that the results of the culling strategy will start to appear in two years time. But the end result will not appear for five to seven years, which is a life sentence to many of our farmers who are closed down with TB," said Mr Jennings.