New TB figures strike at heart of cull

New figures from Defra show that outbreaks of bTB in cattle were at a decade-long low in March, at around 3.25%, the lowest figure since 2004, according to the Guardian website on 12 June. This follows another low figure in February, of around 3.5%. The figures also show a reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered because of bTB in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

These numbers demonstrate that the overall eradication strategy, including movement controls on cattle, is beginning to make a difference, which shows even more clearly that the culls being carried out in Somerset and Gloucestershire are not necessary to reducing incidence of the disease. The culls begun last year were not only inhumane, they also could not have affected these figures this quickly, animal welfare campaigners say.

The government faces fresh criticism over its culling policy in the light of these figures.

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: "These are pretty sensational figures and highly significant.

"There is no way that the badger culls from last year could have influenced these numbers at all, so the drop is purely because of the tighter farming controls that have come in over the last couple of years.

"If I was in the government I'd be shouting these numbers from the rooftops, but unfortunately they would rather keep quiet - because these figures don't justify a badger cull."

He suggested any farmer told that following a few rules could lead to the number of cattle being slaughtered for TB to be halved - as happened in Somerset in January to March this year, compared to the same period in 2013 - would take it.

"So let's now direct all our energy to ensuring that we repeat this success across the country, by doing what works, and not focusing on a badger cull which will achieve nothing." You can read the full article here.