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Wildlife groups ramping up efforts to stop LRA badger culls

Campaigners are ramping up efforts to oppose badger culling in the low risk areas (LRA) where free shooting could take place from autumn this year.


Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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Wildlife groups ramping up efforts to stop LRA badger culls #TBFree

Last week Farming Minster George Eustice announced badger control measures would be available in those areas where disease in badgers was linked to infected herds.

 

But groups including Cumbria Wildlife Trust said culling ‘went against the science’ as it was not a solution to dealing with TB in cattle.

 

It also called for an independent inquiry into whether the culls to date had achieved their intended outcomes in reducing bovine TB (bTB).

 

The disease was first found in Shap, Cumbria, in 2014, following an investigation by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

 

It concluded infected cattle brought in from Northern Ireland had transmitted bTB to ‘clean’ cattle, which then spread it to wildlife.


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David Hall, NFU north west regional manager, said while the disease was not endemic in Cumbrian wildlife, a targeted cull would stop the disease spreading further.

 

"We are only talking about a relatively small area where the wildlife has been found to have the disease,” said Mr Hall, adding the disease was ‘going from cattle to badgers and back to cattle’.

 

“It is a vicious circle. It will not disappear on its own.”

 

Mr Hall said the industry needed a suite of measures to get on top of the disease in Cumbria.

 

This included increased surveillance, movement restrictions, increased biosecurity on farm and control of wildlife.

David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s conservation manager, said the group worked closely with farmers across Cumbria and ‘recognise the difficulties they face’.

 

He said: “No one wants to see cattle herds being devastated by bTB but killing badgers will not solve the problem. Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle - the primary route of infection is cattle-to-cattle contact."

 

In the absence of cattle vaccination, The Wildlife Trusts said vaccination of badgers was a more effective solution.

 

However, badgers would have to be repeatedly vaccinated to stay bTB free.

 

As well as Cumbria, LRA counties expected to be approved for badger control licences by Natural England are Yorkshire, Northumberland, Essex and Kent.

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