Reprieve for Welsh badgers

Posted on the 2nd June 2011

A cull of badgers in Pembrokeshire, which was a cherished policy of the former Welsh Assembly Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, appears to have been scrapped by her Labour Party successor. New Environment Minister, John Griffiths, has announced another review into the science behind the proposed slaughter. It will be led by the chief scientific advisor for Wales, Professor John Harries.

Ms Jones avidly promoted a government-led cull of badgers. It was claimed that it would help eradicate bovine TB, even though the science does not support such a cull. A decade-long study, costing £35m, by the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG), concluded that badger culling could not ‘meaningfully contribute’ to the control of the disease because it displaces the badgers, spreading the disease over a wider area.

A substantial majority of the public opposed slaughtering badgers in two consultations, while the first cull Order for Wales failed on legal grounds in July 2010.

The Badger Trust noted in a recent public statement: ‘If the proposed cull were permitted, it would have no significant impact on the control of bTB in the Intensive Action Area. In fact, the improved testing and cattle controls that have already been implemented in Wales are showing improvements without a single badger having been killed.’

As a result of these controls, the number of cows being slaughtered due to TB has fallen by more than 50 per cent since the beginning of 2010.

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