Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 13:58 UK

Minister signals Devon and Cornwall badger TB cull

Cattle
Many farmers believe badgers spread the disease in cattle

A cull of badgers is to be introduced in Devon and Cornwall to combat bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.

Farming Minister Jim Paice confirmed the news at the Devon County Show.

The government says it is examining how best to roll out the policy, with a pilot vaccination scheme due to start across England this month.

Badgers are blamed by many farmers for spreading TB, which affects cattle. The South West, west of England and Wales have been worst affected.

'Right locations'

Mr Paice said: "We are working on how we pull the science together and how we make sure that it is properly co-ordinated.

"We've got to find the right locations to identify the hot spot areas. We've got to work out who is going to do the culling and how it's going to be co-ordinated."

Badger
More than 1,000 cattle with TB were slaughtered in January and February

Devon farmer John Smith said: "Bring it on as quickly as possible.

"Let's try and rid this country of this horrible disease."

Jack Reedy, of the Badger Trust, said he did not think a cull would go ahead.

"If they were going to be led by the most reputable science they wouldn't even be thinking about it," he said.

Mr Reedy said trials had shown "any benefit would be very short term" and would "evaporate 18 months after the culling programme".

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said more than 1,000 cattle with TB were slaughtered in Devon in January and February.

In Cornwall nearly 500 cattle were slaughtered in the same period.

Defra also said 6,863 Devon cattle with TB were slaughtered in 2009 and in Cornwall the figure was 3,545.



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Badger TB vaccine sites earmarked
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