Farmer adds weight to argument against badger cull
FARMER David Purser has spoken out against a pilot badger cull, which could start today.
The 56-year-old, who owns a farm near Cheltenham, about 20 miles from the edge of the cull zone, says there is "no justification" to shoot the creatures in a bid to stop the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis among cattle.
The Government has approved the controversial measure and, despite furious protest from animal rights campaigners, farmers could soon start shooting badgers on their land within trial cull zones.
Mr Purser, who has kept his own cattle since the 1980s, insisted culling was not the answer, and called for new legislation on vaccinating cattle to be pushed through.
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"In every other instance where disease threatens our cattle we have vaccination in our armoury," he said.
"We know that vaccines reduce the incidence of disease in our cattle and this gives us scope to use our own skills to manage the health and welfare of our herds to suit our particular circumstances.
"We are only denied this essential approach with Bovine TB because of an outdated EU directive governing export which insists on 'accelerated eradication' of the disease and simultaneously bans the use of cattle vaccine.
"Even the casual observer can see that the answer to this issue is to challenge the EU and get the rules changed to allow cattle vaccine – hence the huge and justifiable public outcry in opposition to a massacre of our badgers."
Hundreds of people from Cheltenham have signed a petition against the cull. Opponents of the measure also point to a lack of scientific proof that a cull would be effective in reducing cases of Bovine TB.
However, some farmers have backed calls for the move – arguing that it is the best available measure until cattle vaccinations can be legalised.
Mr Purser said sensationalising figures on how widespread Bovine TB was had blurred the debate.
He added: "Cases of Bovine TB have not risen dramatically. There is no epidemic.
"Farming bodies should avoid a PR disaster by abandoning the badger cull."