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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 February, 2005, 17:37 GMT
Widespread animal cull criticised
Burning carcasses
Mass culling was used during the foot-and-mouth outbreak
Thousands of animals were unnecessarily culled in Dumfries and Galloway during the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001, a leading scientist has claimed.

Michael Thrusfield said there was no need to kill animals simply because their farms neighboured those infected.

More than half a million sheep and 80,000 cattle were slaughtered in the area after 177 farms were infected.

Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie said decisions were taken on the best advice available at the time.

During the outbreak the government introduced a contiguous cull in an effort to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth.

Herds on many farms neighbouring those infected were killed regardless of whether or not they showed signs of the disease.

'Wrong decision'

Mr Thrusfield's report is due to be published in professional journal Veterinary Record this week.

The epidemiologist and vet told the BBC's Landward programme said: "I believe it was the wrong decision primarily because even at national level the epidemic had already peaked.

"That implies that the traditional control measures that have been used for many years were being effective."

However, Mr Finnie said: "I am quite satisfied that those people who advised me were doing their very best in very, very difficult circumstances.

"I think these reports should be used to look forward."

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02 Apr 03 |  Scotland

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