Badger cull TBtrials still set fair

5 October 2001

Badger cull TBtrials still set fair

TRIALS to find out whether culling badgers is the best way to control bovine TB are still on course despite being disrupted by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, the government claims.

The F&M crisis has resulted in the loss of 90 herds out of the 3000 involved in the Krebs badger culling trial. Trials in infected areas have ground to a halt while the rest have been severely disrupted as the civil servants have been needed elsewhere.

But Prof John Bourne, chairman of the Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB, claims the trials are still on course to provide results by 2004/5.

He told a recent meeting of the TB Forum, which considers how to control TB in cattle, that laboratory work on TB has not been significantly affected by the outbreak.

He acknowledged the disruption the F&M outbreak has caused but said the number of farms in the trial that have been culled out is "relatively small".

The trial consists of 10 triplet zones in TB hotspot areas. Each zone is split into three areas within which as many badgers are culled as possible, badgers are culled only around bovine TB outbreaks and no badgers are culled.

A DEFRA spokesman said field work is underway again in some areas. But full capacity is unlikely to be reached by the end of the spring 2002 break in the trial which allows badgers to breed. &#42

"There has been disruption but the timescale has not slipped. Work has been done during the F&M outbreak and there is enough time to catch up," he said.

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