17 August 1998
MAFF grants badger cull go-ahead,
increases TB compensation
By FWi staff
GOVERNMENT ministers have finally given the go-ahead for a trial badger cull aimed at controlling the spread of tuberculosis in cattle. The amount of compensation paid to farmers whose cattle are found to be infected with the disease has also been increased.
The culling trial will start this year in six “hot-spot” areas of the country where tuberculosis in cattle is running at the highest level and where the disease is also commonly found in badgers.
Three of the six areas involved in the trial are on the borders of Devon and Cornwall. The remaining three areas are on the borders of Gloucestershire and Hereford and Worcester (see map).
Farmers whose cattle are infected with tuberculosis will now receive compensation equivalent to 100% of the infected animals market price. Previously the compensation level was set at 75%.
The trial, recommended by the Krebs report last December, will examine the suspected link between tuberculosis in cattle and badgers. But is likely to incur the wrath of animal protection groups who are opposed to killing badgers.
But junior farm minister Jeff Rooker said that the Government had to choose between putting public health first and giving full weight to its commitment to animal welfare
|The Hereford/Gloucestershire and Devon/Cornwall borders are picked for trial badger cull areas (red)|
“This has been one of most difficult decisions facing ministers at MAFF,” he said.
“We sympathise with the views expressed by badger groups. Badgers are a protected species, and will remain so. Our policy objective is not to eradicate badgers, but to control TB in cattle.”
The Government did make two concessions to the animal welfare lobby, however. No badgers will be culled using snares and there will also be an annual closed season on trapping badgers which will run from 1 February to 30 April each year.