Nature before health

Welsh farmers are struggling against the spread of bovine TB but aren’t permitted to cull badgers which spread the disease:

Bovine TB is “out of control” in Wales and cattle measures alone won’t halt the upward spiral of disease prevalence, deputy president of NFU Cymru Stephen James has warned.

Figures released by DEFRA yesterday revealed the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales, because of the disease, has risen by 15% to 9,307 animals in the last year.

NFU Cymru said this is despite farmers adhering to “draconian” measures such as annual testing and pre-movement testing across the whole of Wales, which impacts heavily on every businesses decision they make.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call those measures draconian. Herds in some areas here are subject to annual testing and pre-movement testing to prevent the spread of the disease in high risk areas.

However, these measures won’t stop infection from wild animals.

Mr James said the figures “hammer home” the fact cattle measures alone were ineffective in stopping the disease.

He added: “These figures show a policy that fails to adequately tackle and remove the disease from the wildlife population will never get on top and ultimately eradicate this disease from our countryside; instead the disease continues to escalate.

“This has to act as a wake-up call to the Welsh government and highlights the urgency to implement a science led policy of badger control in endemic areas of the country, rather than the Welsh government’s vaccination policy based on conjecture.”

We can be thankful that wild species which carry TB here, such as possums, stoats and ferrets, are introduced and we’re encouraged to cull them.


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