FARMERS are welcoming steps to tackle bovine TB with a badger cull, but say that it must be done correctly or risk being a pointless exercise.
Defra, the Government’s department for environment, farming and rural affairs, last week announced a badger cull zone in the Worc-estershire border area with Gloucestershire, but covering parts of Malvern and Wychavon.
Badgers are one of the known carriers of bovine tuberculosis. If the disease is found in any cattle in a herd, then tight controls are placed on the herd’s movement, often shutting down the farm for months at a time.
John Bishop, who farms at Colwall in Herefordshire, gave up cattle farming because “it just became too difficult to make a living with constant problems with TB infections”.
He said: “From the badger welfare point of view, infected badgers should be culled so we have a healthy population. And we have to try something because bovine TB is a problem and there’s no vaccine.
“It has to be done scientifically otherwise nothing will be learned from the cull.”
Farmer Rob Adams, who keeps cattle near Worcester, agreed that the problem “isn’t getting any better and is a major worry”.
Harriett Baldwin, West Worcestershire MP, said the disease caused “a long and lingering death” in infected wildlife, and the worry of infected herds meant farmers were “lying awake at night” wondering if their herd would be next.
The rules for the zone mean landowners will have to apply to Natural England for a six-week cull licence.
The exact locations are not being revealed to protect those taking part.
The RSPCA and other critics have cast doubt on any data collected by the cull.
Rob Havard, of Malvern Hills Conservators, said no culling would take place on Conservators’ land.
A spokesman for the Defra said: “The results will inform how we stop the spread of this terrible disease and reduce the cattle going to slaughter and TB infection rates in wildlife.”