Farmers are breathing a sigh of relief after limited badger culls to combat bovine TB were given the go-ahead yesterday.

Pending the outcome of a Defra consultation, pilot schemes will run for a four-year period, starting in two areas of the southwest of England. Up to 40,000 badgers could be killed over the next four years, in what environment secretary Caroline Spelman said represented “the right way forward”.

“I wish there was some other practical way of dealing with this,” Spelman said. “But we can’t escape the fact that the evidence supports the case for a controlled reduction of the badger population in areas worst affected by bovine TB.”

However, Welsh farmers were angry that culls would go ahead in England while plans to tackle TB in the principality remain on hold.

“This only goes to further exasperate our deep frustration and anger with the Welsh Government as it continues to dither while England and many other countries throughout the world have taken the difficult, but necessary, decision,” said NFU Cymru president Ed Bailey.

“English farmers can now have some confidence that at last they have a chance to get on top of and ultimately eliminate TB from their countryside.”

Twenty-five thousands cattle are slaughtered each year in the UK duo to bovine TB. The Government estimates the disease could cost farmers £1bn over the next decade if left unchecked.

Read more
Pro-badger ads banned in bovine TB battle (22 December 2010)
Defra outlines plans for TB badger cull (15 September 2010)