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Farmers add support for badger culls
FARMERS in Wiltshire have welcomed the first licence allowing farmers in England to shoot badgers in an attempt to reduce bovine TB.
Natural England, the licensing body, said the cull would start soon in West Gloucestershire, where cases are high, and a separate licence was also being processed for Somerset.
Evidence shows some wild badgers can become infected with the bacteria that causes bovine TB, and pass the infection on to cattle.
The licences will allow farmers to shoot up to 70 per cent of badgers in the pilot zones, and the Wiltshire branch of the National Farmers’ Union is keeping an eye on the trials to determine whether to call for a licence for the county.
Branch chairman, Mark Lockyer, who runs an arable and sheep farm in the Salisbury area, said: “I think we need to see what happens with these culls.
“It’s such a massive problem across the country and we’re just not getting on top of it.
“The cull is something we will have to start with.
“Eventually we will be able to vaccinate cattle, but unfortunately that’s not there yet so we have to start somewhere.”
Alistair McIntosh, who farms about 750 cattle on Hardwell Farm, in Knighton, just outside Shrivenham , said nearly every dairy farm in the area, including his own, was infected with bovine TB, and he hoped a cull would be licensed in Wiltshire.
He said: “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Mr McIntosh believes his farm was infected by a muntjac deer, but he has spoken to other farmers whose animals definitely got the illness from badgers.
He said it would be cheaper for taxpayers and easier for farmers if, instead of the complicated licensing system, the Government removed the protected status of badgers, allowing farmers to use their discretion to shoot badgers suspected of spreading infection.
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