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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 November, 2003, 06:47 GMT
Restrictions on cattle 'possible'
Badger
Badgers are blamed by farmers for the spread of bovine TB
The movement of cattle in the UK could be restricted under government plans to eradicate bovine tuberculosis.

The minister responsible for animal health, Ben Bradshaw, told the BBC that farmers would be consulted on the issue soon.

He said he expected opposition from some following his decision to stop killing badgers, which are suspected of spreading the disease.

His comments were made on Radio 4's Farming Today This Week programme.

Farmers have described the decision to halt badger culling in areas surrounding farms where there have been outbreaks of bovine TB as "a dereliction of duty".

Epidemic fears

It is estimated that bovine TB could cost taxpayers up to 1bn in compensation to UK farmers.

Just last month, vets ordered the slaughter of an entire herd of cattle on a farm in Lanarkshire following an outbreak of the disease.

Cases are mostly dealt with by killing only the infected animals and monitoring the rest.

What is needed is more control of infected badgers, not less
Anthony Gibson,
National Farmers' Union
But vets have warned of the potential for an epidemic unless farmers exercise the utmost caution when buying animals from high-risk areas.

Farmers are supposed to receive the market value for an animal hit with TB.

Mr Bradshaw suspended the culling of badgers earlier this week after new tests suggested it was counterproductive in the battle against bovine TB.

The trials found that when carried out in reaction to a TB outbreak, the practice led to an increase in the disease.

Anthony Gibson, of the National Farmers' Union in south-west England, says his members feel as if they are being left with no solution to a problem that is ruining their lives and businesses.

"What is needed is more control of infected badgers, not less," he said.

But Dr Elaine King, of the Federation of Badger Groups, applauded Mr Bradshaw's decision and forecast that all culling would eventually be proved to be wrong.

Proactive culling continues

In 1998, the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle Tuberculosis was appointed by the government to design and oversee a large-scale field trial aimed at evaluating badger culling as a way of reducing the incidence of TB in cattle.

The Krebs trials cover 10 areas across the country - five of them in the South West - as well as locations in Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

The areas are divided into three. In the first, the badgers are culled immediately (proactive culling); in the second, they are killed if there is an outbreak of TB (reactive culling); and in the third zone, the badgers are left alone.

Mr Bradshaw said proactive culling would continue because the data for these areas did not yet yield a statistically significant result.




SEE ALSO:
Culling of badgers suspended
04 Nov 03  |  England
Farmers call for badger cull
24 Sep 03  |  Wales
Killing badgers 'not the solution'
09 Apr 03  |  England
TB herd faces slaughter
21 Oct 03  |  Scotland


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