Badger culling is expected to be rolled out in Wales as part of efforts to tackle the spread of bovine TB.
Speaking at a TB symposium at London’s Imperial College today (March 28) Wales’ chief vet Professor Christianne Glossop said the Welsh Government was looking at proposals to cull badgers ‘where the disease was prevalent in badgers’ in areas of Wales.
Prof Glossop said the measures, which Welsh farmers and the respective farming organisations have strongly argued for following the English badger cull, would be ‘proportionate to the scale of the problem’.
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She said while the industry’s increased biosecurity measures and 60 day testing in the high incident areas to remove infected cattle had helped to lower the rate of new incidents in cattle, bovine TB was a strain ‘on the farmers trying to get on with producing food for the nation’.
Welsh Farming Minister Lesley Griffiths was due to make the announcement on the Welsh TB consultation in May.
Farmers’ Union of Wales policy director Nick Fenwick said: "The possibility of such a cull has been referred to by the Welsh Government in statements over recent months, and we therefore look forward to seeing more details regarding such an approach.
“It is essential that such a policy is sufficiently robust to tackle the TB epidemic in badgers which is causing so much suffering for Welsh farming families."
NFU Cymru president Stephen James added: "In our response to the recent Welsh Government Bovine TB consultation we welcomed the recognition from the Welsh Government of the need to take appropriate interventions to break the transmission routes of disease between cattle and wildlife.
"The urgent need for a comprehensive TB eradication strategy that actively removes the reservoir of infection in both the cattle and wildlife populations is as great as it has ever been and we very much hope that the Welsh Government will move forward with these interventions without delay."
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “There has been no new announcement on our TB eradication programme.
“As part of a consultation on our approach to tackling TB, published in October, we set out a range of proposals. These included learning from a pilot in Northern Ireland where, in very specific circumstances, badgers were cage-trapped and infected groups of animals were humanely killed.
“We continue to rule out an England-style cull of badgers where farmers are licensed to free-shoot both infected and healthy badgers.
“We invited responses to this consultation, which closed on January 10. We will formally respond before the summer. There has been no change to our policy position.”