1 December 1999
Badger cull cleared of breaching treaty
By Donald MacPhail
THE governments controversial culling trial designed to reveal whether badger transmit tuberculosis to cattle has been cleared of breaching a European wildlife treaty.
Delegates from the standing committee of the Bern Convention rejected claims that the government had misled other European countries over the legality of the trials.
The committee decided that the file should be closed, but has asked for annual updates on the issue – a move which was welcomed by the government.
Agriculture minister Nick Brown said: “The trial is an important part of our long-term strategy to deal with the growing problem of bovine TB.
“Only by pursuing it can we hope to answer the crucial question of the role badgers play in transmitting the disease to cattle.”
The badger is protected under the Bern Convention, a voluntary agreement signed by Britain in 1979 which underpins much of Europes wildlife legislation.
The National Federation of Badger Groups, which led the action, said the badger cull breached the governments international obligations on wildlife protection.
More than 30 countries voted last year to call on the UK government to stop the badger cull and explore alternative strategies to combat bovine TB.
But the government disregarded the recommendation and the controversial culling experiment has continued throughout 1999.