14 July 2000
Ministers reject badger culling plea

By FWi staff

MINISTERS have rejected a plea by the National Farmers Union to allow farmers to shoot badgers in an attempt to control tuberculosis in cattle.

The proposal was put forward on Thursday (13 July) by a meeting of the national TB forum set up by the Ministry of Agriculture.

But ministers want to wait for the results of the governments scientific culling trial and have urged the forum to look at other control measures.

The trial, designed to establish whether the animals transmit bovine tuberculosis to cattle, involves trapping and killing thousands of badgers.

But intimidation by animal rights activists has prompted farmers in west Cornwall to withdrawing from the governments badger culling trial, it is claimed.

Robert Knowles, Cornwall county chairman for the National Farmers Union, said “several” farmers had withdrawn from the trial for “for family reasons”.

Traps laid for the experiment had been removed by animal rights extremists and wrecked or thrown into different fields, he said.

“There is a lot of tension now between farmers and activists. With farming in the state it is, that tension is the last thing they need on top of financial worries.”

Four dairy herds were recently let out of fields during the night on to the same stretch of highway in the experimental area, said Mr Knowles.

Farmers had received fake letters claiming to be from the Ministry of Agriculture saying the West Penwith experiment was to be called off, he added.