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  1. ITV Report

Badger cull to be extended into Wiltshire

Badger culling is to be extended into 11 new areas of England including Wiltshire. Credit: PA

The Government has announced that the culling of badgers to control the spread of TB in cattle is to be extended into 11 new areas of England, including Wiltshire.

Licences for badger culling across parts of Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Cheshire have been granted. The Government says it is also restarting a badger vaccination programme to stop the spread of the disease to new areas.

In addition, licences for more culling have been granted for areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset which have completed four-year pilot culls introduced to stop the spread of TB from badgers to cattle.

A phone and email advisory service is to start in autumn. It will give advice to farmers and livestock owners areas at high risk or on the edge of the areas suffering the disease.

The Government has committed to rolling out culling to more areas, saying it is necessary to curb TB in cattle as badgers can transmit the disease to livestock.

Bovine TB (bTB) not only has a devastating impact on our beef and dairy farms, but causes harm and distress to infected cattle.

We have a clear plan to eradicate the disease over the next 20 years and this year we are restarting the Government-backed badger edge vaccination scheme to stop the disease spreading to new areas.

Vaccination is just one part of our comprehensive strategy, which also includes tighter cattle controls, improved biosecurity and badger control in areas where bTB is rife, to tackle the reservoir of disease in wildlife.

– George Eustice MP, Farming Minister
Malcolm Clark believes keeping cows outside can guard against the spread of TB. Credit: PA

Opponents say the practice is inhumane. Malcolm Clark from the Wiltshire Badger Group say it is not only cruel but ineffective. He believes modern farming methods rather than badgers are to blame for the spread of tuberculosis.

What is the problem is modern farming methods. High volumes of cattle kept in barns throughout the winter. It's like children in a school. One comes in on Monday morning with the flu and by the end of the week half a dozen have got it and so it passes on.

– Malcolm Clark, Chairman, Wiltshire Badger Group

Mr Clark says he remembers the badger culling trials, which he describes as terrible. He says this will be much worse - all the more so because he believes the cull is pointless.