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  1. ITV Report

Badger cull 'is reducing outbreaks of TB in cattle'

Badger culling has been controversial since the UK Government implemented the culling policy in 2011. Credit: PA

Badger culling is reducing the outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, say the National Farmers' Union.

The controversial cull of the wild animals is taking place in 40 areas across England this year following the reauthorisation of licences in 29 existing areas.

Cumbria was added to the list of culling areas in September 2018.

The NFU claim figures show a drop in new cases of TB breakdowns in cattle in the original cull zones.

They say, in Gloucestershire cases were two thirds lower after four years of culling than would have been expected compared to similar un-culled sites, while in Somerset the rate was 37% lower.

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The National Farmers' Union (NFU) say the study showed a reduction in new cases of TB breakdowns in cattle in the original zones.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said there should be "no doubt in anyone's mind that this policy works."

He continued: “Controlling the disease in wildlife is a crucial element to tackling this devastating disease, alongside a range of measures such as enhanced biosecurity and strengthening cattle movement controls."

But earlier this week researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Imperial College London say the practice drives the surviving creatures to cover 61% more land each month than before the cull began.

They say this means badgers explore new areas as individuals are removed from neighbouring groups and territories open up.

Stop the cull poster on a fence at 'Camp Badger' where protesters are gathering to oppose the badger cull. Credit: PA

Responding to the NFU, the CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer says the figures in the report do not add up.

"By the end of 2019, the Government will have licensed the killing of up 130,000 badgers in 41 cull zones from Cornwall to Cumbria.

"Over 85% of the badgers killed are likely to be TB free and their removal will have no impact on lowering TB in cattle at all.

"Over 60,000 badgers will have been killed by a controlled shooting method, which has resulted in thousands taking over 5 minutes to die of blood loss and organ failure."

"This culling method is condemned as being inhumane by the British Veterinary Association, but continues to be used to reduce costs to farmers.

"Should there be a change of Government at the upcoming election, the Badger Trust is calling for a Public Inquiry into the cull policy

"Never again should a Government be able to declare war on wildlife for short term political and economic interests."

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More than 30,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year due to outbreaks of bovine TB, and 3,600 farms were newly affected by the disease, the NFU claim.

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