NEIL Hamilton, UKIP Leader in Wales and AM for Mid & West Wales, is demanding Welsh Government re introduce the Welsh badger cull programme.
Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is backing a call by the Farmers’ Union of Wales who want the initiative to begin again following positive results of culls in England.
Mr Hamilton said:
“I fully support the FUW in their call to reintroduce badger culling. Newly released figures clearly show the positive impact of culling on bovine TB levels in some high risk areas in England. Clearly, not enough is being done in Wales to eradicate this devastating disease which has plagued beef and dairy herds throughout the country.
“I was strongly opposed to the abolition of the cull and its replacement with badger vaccinations. A report by the European Commission’s BTB sub-group, comprising veterinary experts from across the EU, stated that there was ‘no scientific evidence to demonstrate that badger vaccination will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle….. but considerable evidence to support the removal of badgers in order to improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle.’
“We have delayed too long and urgent action is needed now to support and protect our farmers and their herds. We must do everything in our power to tackle this deadly disease which means the re-introduction of culling.
“I have raised this matter on several occasions in the Senedd and will continue to demand that Welsh Government deals with this problem as a matter of urgency.”
The recent publication of data by Defra demonstrates that the completion of the four year badger culls in both Somerset and Gloucestershire have reduced the number of new TB outbreaks by around half.
Ian Lloyd, FUW Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman, said: “These findings are unsurprising and support the FUW’s interpretation of the results of the Randomised Badger Culling Trials. Previous modelling by the FUW showed that herd incidences could be reduced by 30% in a five year cull and by a further 33 % in the following three years post-culling.”
The FUW believes that the results demonstrate the need to reinstate the proactive Intensive Action Area (IAA) badger cull programme which was abolished and replaced with a badger vaccination programme under the then Environment Minister, John Griffiths.
Mr Lloyd continued: “In contrast to England, farmers in Wales have seen just five badgers culled since the start of the ‘Refreshed’ TB Eradication programme almost a year ago. The costs of this meagre cull programme have been exorbitant and it is now time for the Welsh TB programme to place the same emphasis on dealing with wildlife as it does cattle.
“In light of the English results, and the fact that Welsh Government effectively has a plan on the shelf which is, in many ways, ‘ready to go’, it is now time to reinstate the original plan for the IAA in order to accelerate the Welsh bovine TB programme.”
More than 10,000 cattle were culled due to bovine TB in Wales in 2017, representing a 2.3 percent rise on the previous year.
“The Welsh cattle industry has simply had enough and the FUW is now calling on the Welsh Government to properly recognise the impact of this insidious disease on farming families in Wales,” said Ian Lloyd.
Photo: Tom Koerner