Page last updated at 05:43 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 06:43 UK

'Illegal badger kill' over delay

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A Pembrokeshire farmer says, badgers thought to be carrying bovine TB are being killed illegally

A farmer says badgers are being killed illegally amid the lack of a date for a pilot cull to tackle bovine TB.

In April Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones announced a targeted cull and a three-year scheme has been outlined.

But she will not make a statement on the cull until early next year because she said her officials need more time to decide where it is most effective.

On BBC current affairs programme Taro Naw on S4C, farmers accuse her of delaying her decision unnecessarily.

Many in the farming community have long blamed badgers for spreading bovine TB but animal groups say evidence does not support this.

Carwyn James who farms organic cattle in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire, told the programme: "The assembly government has been talking about the cull for long enough.

"The cost of the epidemic now is astronomical. They really have to do something now."

Huw Roberts
I'm certain that the epidemic is caused by moving cattle from one area to another
Huw Roberts, Clwyd Badger Group

"More and more badgers are being killed illegally. Farmers are losing patience and badgers are being killed in this area every week."

Between January and May 2008, 4,600 cattle were slaughtered, compared to 3,200 in the same period in 2007.

The cost of compensating Welsh farmers for TB in cattle has risen by 59% in the past year, up from £6.3m in April to September 2007, to more than £10m in the same period in 2008.
Despite Ms Jones' decision to increase testing of cattle, to move infected animals quickly and to set up regional TB eradication boards, farmers in Wales say they are disappointed there was no decision to cull badgers in a specific area.

Brian Walters, deputy president of the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW), said: "If the minister doesn't get this right we can forget about tackling TB in the Welsh countryside.

"It will be rampant in wildlife and out of control."

Ms Jones says she accepts badgers can transmit TB to cattle and that cattle can infect one another, but says her officers need more time to decide where a cull of badgers would be most effective.

"I don't anticipate any more delays but we have to take legal and veterinary advice as to where this would be effective," she says. "I hope to be able to make a statement on this in the new year."

However, conservationists say badgers are being wrongly victimised for an illness brought on by modern, intensive farming.

Experiments

Animal campaigners have described the intended cull as "misguided" and recently held protests in Bridgend, Cardiff, Haverfordwest, Lampeter, Llandysul, Porthmadog, Swansea, Wrexham and Oswestry.

Huw Roberts, of the Clwyd Badger Group, said modern farming practices were responsible for spreading TB.

"Scientific experiments have shown that it is cattle that are transmitting TB to badgers," he says. "I'm certain that the epidemic is caused by moving cattle from one area to another."

The UK government has decided not allow badger culling in England, warning that it could make the bovine TB problem worse.

It is a criminal offence to wilfully kill a badger under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. The offence carries a a prison sentence of up to six months.

Taro Naw, made by BBC Wales, is on S4C on Tuesday at 2100 BST. Subtitles are available.


SEE ALSO
Cameron backs Welsh badger cull
24 Jul 08 |  Mid Wales
Benn confirms TB cull rejection
07 Jul 08 |  Science & Environment
Report backs limited badger cull
27 Feb 08 |  Science & Environment

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