Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Protesters - badger cull 'would bring shame on Wales'

Around 200 protesters gathered outside the Senedd

Protesters have called on the assembly government to abandon a cull of badgers in Wales, saying it will bring "shame" on the country.

The assembly government said the cull, which will start in Pembrokeshire next month, will help tackle the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.

But around 200 protesters gathered at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Monday to voice their opposition to the plans.

Farmers say the disease kills thousands of cattle each year.

A number of organisations took part in the protest organised by Save The Badger, an umbrella campaign group for individuals and organisations opposed to the planned badger cull.

They include the Badger Trust, Animals Count and Secret World Wildlife Rescue.

John Evans, Save The Badger spokesman, said: "Over 30,000 people have signed petitions opposing their policy and all these have been handed in to the assembly government.


It will be the shame of Wales - it will be the shame of the UK

Justin Kerswell (right), of Viva!

"Countless letters from people urging them to stop the slaughter have been sent by e-mail and post.

"Across Wales, public meetings have been held attracting large numbers of people angry at their plans.

"Like us, all these members of the public are horrified and appalled that in 2010, this International Year of Biodiversity, our government intend slaughtering thousands of badgers in Wales.

"And it's not just angry members of the public, or even the various animal conservation organisations like ours who disagree with the ethics of this policy, the majority of scientific research and evidence has stated for the record that culling badgers as a method of dealing with TB in cattle will not work."

Justin Kerswell, Campaigns Manager for Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!), who was present, said: "It's brilliant to see so many people from Wales and beyond united against this decision that will decimate Wales' wildlife.

"Its a decision based on greed, stupidity and ignorance of science."

Mr Kerswell said that as dairy farming in Wales had become more intensive, cattle have become more prone to disease, such as bovine TB.

He said: "Rather than implementing tighter cattle controls which cost more money they are slaughtering badgers."

Mr Kerswell added: "It will be the shame of Wales, it will be the shame of the UK."

'Costing taxpayers'

The assembly government said bovine TB was a serious animal health and welfare issue as well as a huge cost to the taxpayer.

A spokesman said over the past 10 years the assembly government had spent almost £100,000,000 of taxpayers money on compensation alone for slaughtering cattle with TB.

"Culling badgers on its own won't get rid of bovine TB, but will make a significant contribution as part of a comprehensive package of measures, including increased cattle testing, tighter restrictions on cattle movements and tough enforcement when farmers do not comply," he said.

"The approach we are taking in the pilot area has not been undertaken in the UK before but is an approach to eradicating the disease that has worked in Australia and is working in New Zealand"

That approach was backed by farmers' representative Stephen James, Deputy President of NFU Cymru.

"Stringent measures have already been implemented to deal with the problem in cattle... expert scientific advice has been taken in determining the pilot area and we are entirely satisfied that the approach is based on sound science with every 'i' dotted and 't' now crossed," he said.

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