Page last updated at 22:08 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Church wants badger cull debate

Church leaders in Somerset have said the government's decision not to cull badgers does not help farmers.

The Bath and Wells Diocese has called for talks to solve the problem of bovine TB after rural affairs secretary Hilary Benn refused to order a cull.

Tom Done, of the diocese, said: "Cattle farmers are facing bankruptcy, depression and some are even suicidal."

Reported cases of TB were up by 40% in 2008 and 20,000 beasts were slaughtered on farms across the south west.

Mr Done, chairman of the Diocesan Rural Life Group, said: "We can have a positive debate between the badger groups, farmers and the department for environment, food and rural affairs - with all sides looking at the interests of one another so we can have healthy wildlife and cattle for the benefit of those of us who love our countryside."

Pauline Kidner, from the Somerset animal sanctuary, Secret World Wildlife Rescue, which looks after 100 badgers a year, said: "My immediate response was perhaps they ought to stop reading the bible and read the report by the Independent Scientific Group.

"That is a research project done over a period of eight years costing the government 53m."

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