LONDON, Dec. 14 (UPI) — British authorities say a badger cull will be carried out in two areas of England next year in an attempt to tackle bovine TB in cattle.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said a decision on whether to extend the cull across the country would be made after the trials in yet-to-be-decided locations, the BBC reported Wednesday.
“Evidence shows that unless we tackle the disease in badgers we’ll never eradicate it in cattle,” she said in Parliament. “We need to stop it spreading, bring it under control and eradicate it.”
Spelman acknowledged “a great strength of feeling on the issue” and how much opposition there was to a cull, but said action had to be taken before the situation got worse.
“We can’t escape the fact that the evidence supports the case for the controlled reduction of the badger population in the areas affected by bovine TB,” she said.
Nearly 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year because of bovine TB, she told the House of Commons, and the cost to the taxpayer could reach $1.5 billion during the next 10 years.
Opponents argued a cull of badgers by shooting is unnecessary and cruel.
“The government’s priority should be preventing transmission of the disease on-farm, through improved biosecurity, badger vaccination and making swift progress on a cattle vaccine,” Paul Wilkinson, head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said.