Farming minister insists badger cull is needed
NEW figures have shown that nearly 2,000 cattle were slaughtered in Gloucestershire last year as a result of bovine TB.
Ministers have said the statistics showed the growing impact of the disease on the diary and beef industry and that there was a need to curb its spread.
Bovine TB led to the slaughter of 1,930 cattle in the county last year, compared to 1,805 in 2011.
Farming Minister David Heath said it proved there was a need to cull badgers to prevent further spread of the disease.
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He said: "Last year, 28,284 cattle had to be slaughtered in England as a result of TB.
"More than 20,000 were from farms in western England, including 1,930 in Gloucestershire. No other area of the country knows as well as this community the devastation TB can cause.
"Every cattle farmer in Gloucestershire will tell you they live in constant dread that one day they will get the terrible news their herd has tested positive for bovine TB. The cull might not be universally popular but it is backed up by science."
But Drew Pratten, of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting, said there was a need to focus on the right issues.
He added: "We are truly upset at the degree of suffering that TB causes, both in cattle and in badgers.
"However, what must be remembered is that there is no independent scientist saying that a cull would work.
"In fact, many say that the culling of badgers would make things worse as it will disturb sets making sick badgers move around.
"We don't want a county rife with TB, neither do we want a county devoid of wildlife.
"The cull will only bring anger and upset from the general public but a wave of anger directed at farmers, who can ill afford it in the current climate."
Mr Heath has stressed that no one should disrupt the cull as it is legal activity.
He added: "No one has the right to disrupt legal activity or threaten those who have chosen to take part in it.
"Those carrying out the cull must be allowed to proceed safely and without fear of intimidation."