CUMBRIA Wildlife Trust has slammed the Government announcement that badger culling should be allowed in England as a preventative measure against bovine TB.

The Gazette reported last week that culling could take place as early as this autumn.

However, CWT has said that such measures would do nothing to help eradicate the deadly disease.

David Harpley, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Manager, said: “We work closely with many farmers across Cumbria and recognise the difficulties they face.

“No one wants to see cattle herds being devastated by bovine tuberculosis (bTB), but killing badgers will not solve the problem.

“Badgers are not the primary cause of the spread of bTB in cattle: the primary route of infection is cattle-to-cattle contact.

“The Government’s badger cull is flying in the face of science. It should be putting more resources into speeding up the development of an effective cattle vaccine, among other measures.”

The first cases of bovine TB in badgers were confirmed in August 2017. Apha officials believe the disease spread into the Low Risk Area (LRA) from cattle brought from Northern Ireland with the disease transmitting to wildlife.

Bovine TB was first found in the area, known as the Shap Cluster or Hot Spot 21 (HS21), in November 2014.

In the absence of cattle vaccination, wildlife trusts in the UK believe that vaccination of badgers is a more humane and effective solution to helping stop the spread of bTB than culling.

A shortage of BCG vaccine, with no alternative, put a temporary halt to badger vaccination in 2016, but this year some wildlife trusts sourced vaccine independently and are re-commencing vaccination.