Badger cull protesters target Welsh Assembly

The government in Wales is standing firm on its decision to begin a cull of badgers on farmland in west Wales next month despite mounting protest from wildlife groups.

Feelings were running high when around 200 supporters of Pembrokeshire Against The Cull gathered outside the offices of rural affairs minister Elin Jones at the Senedd on Monday 8 March.

The group held the rally to urge the Welsh Assembly Government to abandon the cull. But the government said the cull will help tackle the spread of bovine TB in cattle and will press ahead with it.

It said bovine TB is a serious animal health and welfare issue as well as a huge cost to the taxpayer. Over the past 10 years the government had spent almost £100m of taxpayers’ money on compensation alone for slaughtering cattle with TB.

The protesters who gathered at the Senedd on Monday want to see tighter cattle controls, arguing that the cull will devastate wildlife.

But Stephen James, deputy president of NFU Cymru, who has had repeated TB breakdowns in his Holstein Friesian herd in Pembrokeshire since 1993, said stringent measures had already been implemented to deal with the problem in cattle and this resulted in an increase in cases of bovine TB.

Mr James urged the government not to waver in its holistic approach to the disease. Referring to the protest he said: “Everyone has the right to protest [but] the decision to cull badgers was taken through a democratic process.”

Mr James admitted farmers in the cull area had expressed concerns about the threat of action by protesters as the cull date approached.

“It is without doubt a controversial subject and the concerns are not over people who will protest peacefully but those who get stirred up by the event and not the cause,” he said.