Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Badger cull - piloting controls on bovine TB
Extension granted to Somerset badger cull.
Bovine TB is spreading across England and devastating our cattle and dairy industries. Over 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England in 2012 due to bovine TB, and the disease is continuing to spread across England. New herd incidents in Great Britain have risen from 1,075 in 1996 to 5,171 in 2012. In 2012, 6,919 herds were under restrictions due to bovine TB.
On 27 August the National Farmers Union announced that pilot badger culls have started to help bring bovine TB under control. These culls have been carried out in Gloucestershire and Somerset, which are TB hotspot areas, by trained professionals. An application for a short extension to the Somerset badger cull has now been granted by Natural England. An application to extend the Gloucestershire badger cull is now being considered.
- News story: Somerset badger cull extension granted (14 October 2013)
- News story: Badger cull extension application in Somerset (9 October 2013)
- Government response: Badger cull humaneness expert advice will be publicly available (17 September 2013)
- Government response: Government has no plans to take over pilot culls (13 September 2013)
- Government response: badger culling will have a significant impact on bovine TB (8 September 2013)
- Written Ministerial Statement by Owen Paterson on Bovine TB (2 September 2013)
- Letter from NFU President Peter Kendall to NFU members (27 August 2013)
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said:
Bovine TB is an infectious disease that is spreading across the country and devastating our cattle and dairy industries.
We know that despite the strict controls we already have in place, we won’t get on top of this terrible disease until we start dealing with the infection in badgers as well as in cattle. That’s the clear lesson from Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the USA.
That is why these pilot culls are so important. We have to use every tool in the box because TB is so difficult to eradicate and it is spreading rapidly.
If we had a workable vaccine we would use it. A badger vaccine would have no effect on the high proportion of sick badgers in TB hotspots who would continue to spread the disease. We are working on new badger and cattle vaccines but they are years away from being ready and we cannot afford to wait while TB gets worse.