TB control set to tighten on cull trial farms

The Welsh Assembly Government is set to has tighten bovine tuberculosis control within the west Wales badger cull pilot area.

New controls to prevent transmission between cattle will apply from Saturday 1 May to the 350 cattle farms in parts of north Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

The farms will be tested for TB every six months and cattle movements into and out of the area will only be allowed with after pre-movement testing.

But there is still no indication of when the first badgers in this 288sq/km will be trapped and killed and what numbers of badgers are involved.

It is understood that sett survey work is nearing completion and, once this has been done, this is likely to be the trigger for the cull to get under way.

This will have to link in with an end to the closed season for badgers and consultations are continuing to help decide when this date will be.

With feelings running high among wildlife groups it is unlikely that the start date of culling will be announced publicly.

The farms in the affected area have generally co-operated with the surveying work but there are believed to be up to 100 which have so far not allowed access to their land.

If the stand-off continues the assembly government does have the power to enter land to cull badgers without a landowner’s permission.

Although Wales has decided to adopt a more radical approach to bovine TB eradication than England where badgers will instead be vaccinated, Wales has not ruled out the possibility of using the vaccine to protect clean populations of badgers.