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10 new badger cull zones to include Cornwall

10 new badger cull zones to include Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:43am 15th September 2018. (Updated at 7:57am 15th September 2018)

The controversial badger cull is being expanded to more areas across the UK, including in Cornwall.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced 10 new zones nationwide.

It comes as the number of cases of bovine TB drops by almost half in some parts of the south-west.

However, the Badger Trust warns it could lead to more than 40,000 badgers being shot in five years.

What do the figures show?

Licensed four-year culls have been completed in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Incidence of the disease in Gloucestershire has fallen from 10.4% to 5.6% in year four, while in Somerset it has reduced from 24% to 12%

Officials say that along with six-monthly cattle testing, movement restrictions and good biosecurity on farms, culls offer the best opportunity to "deal quickly with this localised threat".

However, as part of the 25-year eradication strategy, a new round of applications for Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme grants has also been announced.

"The figures showing reductions in TB cases in Somerset and Gloucestershire are evidence that our strategy for dealing with this slow moving, insidious disease is delivering results.

"Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK.

"There is no single measure that will provide an easy answer which is why we are committed to pursuing a wide range of interventions to protect the future of our dairy and beef industries and eradicate the disease within 20 years.

"No one wants to be culling badgers forever so the progress reported today is encouraging".

Farming Minister and Camborne and Redruth MP, George Eustice

The Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, which was suspended for two years following a global vaccine shortage before resuming in 2017, is open for expressions of interest with grant funding of up to 50% of costs - worth £700,000 over four years - available to private groups wishing to carry out badger vaccination in the Edge Area.

The scheme, which funded three projects over the course of the past 12 months, aims to create a protected badger population between the High Risk and Low Risk Areas of England and prevent further spread of the disease. New projects would start in spring 2019.

England has the highest incidence of bovine TB in Europe and the disease costs taxpayers over £100 million every year.

In 2017 more than 33,000 cattle had to be slaughtered in England to control the disease, causing devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities.

Earlier this year the Government announced a review of its 25-year Bovine TB strategy. The review, chaired by Sir Charles Godfray, is due to report to ministers at the end of the month.

"Taking comprehensive action to prevent bovine TB infection of cattle from the reservoir of disease in local badger populations is an essential part of the Government's 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease in England.

"Proactive badger control is currently the best available option. Supported by tighter cattle controls including in those areas seeing a reduction in cattle-badger-cattle infection, improved biosecurity and vaccination, the licensing of further areas is necessary to realise disease control benefits across England.

"Five years into our 25-year bovine TB eradication strategy it is timely to reflect on the next steps and I look forward to Sir Charles Godfray and his team reporting to ministers later this month."

Chief Vet Christine Middlemiss

Speaking to The Guardian, the Badger Trust argued that the cost to taxpayers, per badger culled, was £1,000 and that vaccination is far less expensive.

It added that ministers have: "Given the green light to the largest destruction of badgers in living memory. More badgers could be killed in the next few months then the last five years combined.

"A national badger vaccination programmes combined with improved TB testing for cattle, tighter biosecurity and cattle movement controls, will be far more effective.

"This is a far better outcome for farmers, taxpayers and for the future survival of badgers".

Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust

Do you think the badger cull is a good idea? Let us know by commenting at the link below.

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