January 4, 2006

Britain set to cull badgers to control bovine TB: NFU

OXFORD (Reuters) - Britain is set to cull badgers in a bid
to tackle bovine tuberculosis despite opposition from wildlife
groups, Tim Bennett, president of the National Farmers' Union,
said on Wednesday.

"That (a badger cull) is not a debate. Frankly this is
going to happen," Bennett told reporters at a news conference
held at the annual Oxford Farming Conference.

Last month the British government announced it was holding
a consultation about whether to cull badgers in a bid to
control the spread of the disease and about what methods might
be used.

The consultation is due to end in mid-March and Bennett
said he favored starting a cull in May.

Badgers are a wildlife host of bovine TB but their role in
its spread is controversial.

Rates of the disease among UK cattle have risen sharply in
recent years.

The government has also announced it is imposing
pre-movement testing on cattle in another measure aimed at
slowing the spread of the disease.

"Farmers patience is completely exhausted. They will not
accept pre-movement testing unless there is a cull," Bennett

UK farming minister Lord Bach said the issue posed
difficulties for the government.

Wildlife groups such as the Badger Trust have been
campaigning against a cull.

"None of this is comfortable at all," the minister told