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Badger Trust under fire on report.

The nfu has accused the Badger Trust of twisting facts and being economical with the truth in the report it has published jointly with Badgerwatch Ireland on bovine TB and badgers in Ireland.

Far from having been a failure, as the report suggests, the Irish government's policy of culling badgers within two kilometres of a TB outbreak not caused by cattle movements has succeeded in reducing the number of cattle slaughtered as TB reactors from 42,000 in 2002 ( when the current policy was introduced ( to 24,104 in 2006 ( a reduction of 42.6%. The number of farms under restriction because of TB fell from 8,500 in 2002 to 6,500 in 2005.

The NFU also dismisses the Badger Trust's claim that badgers in Ireland face "extermination". It points out that in 2005, for example, approximately 3,250 badgers were killed out of a population estimated in 2004 at around 200,000.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond commented: "This is a highly misleading report which twists some facts and ignores many others.

"TB has always been a much bigger problem in Ireland than it is in the UK. But the partnership approach adopted by the Irish government in working with the farming community has achieved a very significant reduction in the incidence of TB, and in the long run that will be good news for badgers as well as for cattle and farmers.

"In Great Britain, by contrast, the number of new TB outbreaks increased by 11% in the first two months of this year compared with the same period in 2006. We ought to be learning from the Irish experience, not misrepresenting it.

"Across the EU, 25 out of 27 EU member states (UK and Eire being the exceptions) have virtually eradicated bTB by using the same cattle control measures as us and despite having similar farming practices. It is only when cattle have to live alongside bTB infected wildlife (in the UK and Eire this is the badger) that the disease persists. This is only the latest example of the Badger Trust's state of denial over the role that badgers play in transmitting TB to cattle and other wildlife, and it is doing their credibility no good at all."

He said they would be serving the cause of the badger much more effectively if they faced up to the facts of the matter and worked with the Government, vets and farmers towards achieving a healthy badger population.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 17, 2007
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