Farmers tell me that there is no real alternative to killing thousands of badgers. There are clearly different views in some parts of the animal welfare community. The two quotes which follow set out the battle lines.

“Bovine TB is a chronic and insidious disease which is having a devastating impact on farmers. Unless further action is taken now it will continue to get worse,” Spelman said. “There is great strength of feeling on this issue and no one wants to see badgers culled. But at present there is no satisfactory alternative.” She said farmers, who will pay part of the cost of the culls, would have to apply to Natural England for licences and the marksmen used would require special shooting permits.

“Badger culling has become a costly distraction from the important business of controlling cattle TB. The culling is expected to achieve, at best, a 16% reduction in cattle TB,” said Rosie Woodroffe, a badger ecologist at the Institute of Zoology in London and who worked for decade on the largest ever UK study of badger culling. “It is likely to cost farmers more than they save, and there is a serious concern that such culling will make cattle TB worse rather than better.”

I have never fully understood when it comes to challenges such as TB and for that matter foot and mouth, why (particularly in view of it being a practice in other countries) vaccination is never seriously considered. Perhaps I am too much of a “townie” What I do know, is, that issues like this demonstrate, lest any of us should forget it, that in the often ruthless world of food and farming there is little, if no room, for sentiment.

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