Page last updated at 20:13 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Bid to stop badger cull rejected

A badger
Opponents say a badger cull could make bovine TB worse

A bid to halt a controversial badger cull in Pembrokeshire has failed.

Assembly Members voted in favour of plans to trap and shoot badgers as part of a campaign to get rid of bovine TB.

No cull will not happen until a final decision by the rural affairs minister, and not before the end of the closed season, between winter and spring.

The vote was tabled by two AMs opposed to the planned cull. Meanwhile, the Badger Trust is seeking a judicial review of the decision to allow a cull.

The vote on whether to annul a ministerial order underpinning the cull was defeated nine votes to 43.

During an assembly debate, Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said 12,000 cows were slaughtered last year because of TB, compared to 7,000 in 1997.

Pembrokeshire will be known as the killing fields... it's not a cull - it's a slaughter
Lorraine Barrett AM

The bill for compensating Wales' farmers has risen from £1.8m to £24m since 2000.

Ms Jones said: "Both government-led culling and vaccination of badgers are appropriate strategies to pursue the eradication of bovine TB in Wales, which is why this order confers powers to carry out both.

"Culling removes infection through the removal of infected animals, whiles vaccination protects uninfected animals from becoming infected.

"So each will be necessary to pursue the eradication of bovine TB in Wales."

She added that other measures were planned to help rid Wales of the disease, including improvements in moving infected animals from farms.

Bad animal husbandry

Labour AM Lorraine Barrett, who tabled the vote with Liberal Democrat Peter Black, called on the assembly government to concentrate solely on vaccinating animals.

She said: "I have always been a loyal member of my party and this government here in the assembly, but I just couldn't stand by and let this order go through without a last-minute attempt to stop it.

"I don't believe that killing badgers as a means of tackling this problem is scientifically or morally justified.

"Pembrokeshire will be known as the killing fields. It's not a cull - it's a slaughter."

The AM read out letters from opponents of the cull in Pembrokeshire and said there was evidence that intensive faming and bad animal husbandry caused disease.

Cattle control measures

Conservative rural affairs spokesman Brynle Williams, speaking in support of the cull, said: "Too many people are very emotive about this and don't realise that TB crosses to people.

National Farmers' Union Cymru president Dai Davies said: "Today's motion to annul the order would have deprived the assembly government of the scope to pursue, alongside stringent cattle control measures, a badger control strategy.

"In the same ways as it would be irresponsible to leave diseased cattle to continue to spread the disease, we have also to contain and eradicate TB in the badger population.

"Only then will be able to fulfil our aspiration of a cattle and wildlife population free of disease and living in harmony."

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