English farmers have been arguing with the government about the idea of culling Badgers in order to combat cattle contracting tuberculosis.
Officials in favour of the suggestions hope to start the culling in May 2011; as many as 6,000 badgers could be killed in the first year. In July, the Badger Trust successfully prevented a badger culling in Wales.
The cull is suggested after the increased spread of tuberculosis cost the government £63m in compensation and TB tests in 2009 alone. 25,000 cattle were slaughtered as well.
However, there is opposition to the idea. Dr Rosie Woodroffe, currently working at the Institute of Zoology in London as a badger ecologist, has said ‘it is scientifically among the worst options.
“We consider it likely that licensing farmers to cull badgers would not only fail to achieve a beneficial effect, but would entail a substantial risk of increasing the incidence of cattle TB and spreading the disease.”
The RSPCA noted in a public consultation that 95% of members were opposed to the plans to cull badgers.
Although officials say they prefer vaccination to culling, it is considerably more expensive.
A Defra TB expert was quoted to have said: “We’d expect four to five [culling] areas in the first year.”
Each area is estimated to cull 800-1200 badgers every year.
Some officials hope TB to be non-existent in the UK within the next 20 years.