An investigation by Welsh current affairs programme Y Byd ar Bedwar tonight will examine new evidence which suggests that farmers are taking the law into their own hands, and killing badgers. In a U-turn last month the Welsh Government announced that it would vaccinate, rather than kill, badgers to prevent the spread of Bovine TB. Badgers are a protected species and the Welsh Government warns that anybody breaking the law will be prosecuted.
Former Rural Affairs minister, Elin Jones, who backed a pilot cull of badgers in west Wales, criticized the U-turn saying that farmers had been let down by the the government. She suggested that they could take matters into their own hands in their frustration.
In tonight's programme she reveals she was forced to have police protection after threats made against her by animal rights campaigners. She details the stringent security measures she had to follow during her period as Minister of Rural Affairs between 2007 and 2011. They included installing a panic button at her home in Aberystwyth connected to the police station as well as an alarm system.
“I had to take security measures in the house and the office and I had to be careful what I was doing with my time and where I was” said the 46 year old Ceredigion Assembly Member.
Her decision to pilot a cull of badgers in west Wales in order try and reduce the incidence of TB in cattle led to strong opposition from charity the Badger Trust and aggravated many animal rights campaigners. The present Labour-only government in Cardiff Bay announced last month that they were rejecting a badger cull as was the policy of the previous Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition Government, opting instead for a five-year vaccination programme.
Bovine tuberculosis has led to the slaughter of 100,000 cattle in Wales over the past 10 years and has cost taxpayers £120 million in compensation alone. Badgers are the only mammals in the United Kingdom that are protected by law. But scientists have long argued that badgers contribute to the spread of TB in cattle. The best method of reducing the bacteria - whether it’s culling, vaccinating or a combination of both - is still the subject of heated debate.
Huw Roberts a member of the Clwyd Badger Group who was strongly against the cull condemned anyone who threatened Elin Jones when she was Rural Affairs Minister. “I most certainly would never condone anybody who does that sort of thing. Government ministers should never be threatened. The matter of TB in cattle can be sorted out quite democratically.”
You can watch that Y Byd Ar Bedwar at 9 o'clock tonight on S4C.**