The National Beef Association has said that the proposed badger cull is a 'major step forward' in the on-going fight against bovine TB. Chairman Hamish McBean said badger populations had 'exploded' in many parts of the UK and it would be 'impossible' for the cattle industry to get a grip of TB without looking at the wildlife element as well.
“Farmers want to see badgers on their farm and the NBA believes these control measures will ensure those badgers are healthy, which will also ensure a healthy and thriving cattle population too,” he said.
The purpose of the first two pilot areas is to show the safety, humaneness and effectiveness of culling badgers, as two small-scale projects are not expected to result in an immediate drop in TB disease levels in cattle or wildlife.
The NBA said it believed those who were granted the first two licences will clearly demonstrate the positive role of farmer-led and financed operations, allowing additional licences to be issued for 2013.
With fox, rabbit and deer populations all controlled by free shooting, the NBA is confident badgers will not be unduly harmed or public safety put at risk.
NBA TB committee chairman Bill Harper said: “The cattle industry is working hard, with the NBA and other stakeholders pulling together, to put forward a shortlist of suitable areas to Defra. Ministers will then liaise with Natural England, which is the body that will give final sign-off on the licences.