Culling badgers is right says farmer

Reporter: Richard Hooton
Date published: 21 July 2011

A SADDLEWORTH farmer has backed a proposed cull of badgers in a bid to prevent them spreading TB to cattle.

The Government has announced it will permit the cull to tackle bovine tuberculosis, though mass slaughter of the TB–carrying animals has bitterly polarised farmers and animal welfare campaigners for decades.

Lydgate farmer Bryan Hough, who runs Burnedge Bent Farm in Burnedge Lane, is fully behind the decision.

He said: “They don’t have a vaccine to prevent it so they need to cull them or we will be short of food in this country.

“They have got to get it right as it’s spreading through the country. They need to do something about it.

“I’m all for culling anything that’s causing problems.

“It’s a great loss to the country that there’s so many good cattle going to be destroyed.

“Thank goodness we have not got it up here but it could affect my cattle. If they had TB it would affect my trade.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said that, subject to successful trials next summer, groups of farmers will be licensed to organise the widespread shooting of badgers across England.

She told the Commons that it was clear that badgers were contributing to the spread of TB among cattle and current measures were not checking it.

“This terrible disease saw 25,000 cattle slaughtered last year, has cost taxpayers £500 million over the last 10 years in England alone, and if not checked, will cost a billion pounds over the next decade,” she said.

The aim will be to cull at least 70 per cent of the badgers in a given area with the killing done by specially trained marksmen with high-powered rifles.

Mr Hough added: “We can’t carry on the way we are going with superb cattle being lost.

“We cleared TB out of all the cattle 30 years ago and we were clear for a long time but now it’s come back.”

Farmers, land owners and vets have welcomed the cull as essential in the fight against the disease but wildlife groups criticised it as inhumane, unscientific and unnecessary.

The RSPCA said the decision marked “a black day”, The League Against Cruel Sports said “all the evidence shows that culls do not work”, and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said the cull was a “barbaric slaughter of badgers”.