Wales plans pilot badger slaughter

Read the statement on our forums and add your views 

The Welsh Assembly is to cull badgers in a bovine tuberculosis hot-spot area where the disease cannot be linked to poor biosecurity, cattle movements or other sources of infection.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones told an assembly plenary session that the current situation, which involved the slaughter of 8000 cattle and compensation payments of £15m in 2007, was unsustainable.

The location and size of the pilot cull area would depend on the results of a one-off test on every cattle herd in Wales during year one of a three-year, eradication programme with a budget of £27m.

She added that extra tests would be carried out on the 35% of farms not already scheduled to be tested during the year.

The logistics and costs of delivering the tests and improved surveillance were still being worked out, but success depended on close co-operation between government and private vets and farmers.

Efforts would also be made to speed up the removal of cattle that tested positive, and talks were underway to ensure that the valuation of reactors was done speedily and was fair to both farmers and tax payers.

For the first time camelids such as llamas and alpacas would also be tuberculin tested.

Both Welsh farming unions commended the minister’s “proactive and holistic” programme for tackling the disease.