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Right of Reply; Pauline Kidner

The Patron of the National Federation of Badger Groups responds to an article on Saturday by Duff Hart-Davis

THE NATIONAL Federation of Badger Groups is very concerned that a remark I made at a meeting in Gloucestershire has been misrepresented (report, 30 January) as our supporting the Culling Programme. In answer to a specific remark by Brian Jennings (NFU) stating that the NFBG would not put down an infectious TB badger that was suffering, I emphatically denied this. We follow very strict health regimes.

We are totally against the badger-culling programme as it is logistically impractical. More worryingly, farmers are openly admitting to taking matters into their own hands and killing badgers in the no-cull part of the triplet of experiments. While pounds 27m has been allocated to the culling programme, only pounds 7m is to be spent jointly on vaccine research and other areas of contributing factors such as trace element deficiency, animal husbandry and climate.

It is already accepted that TB incidences must be due to multiple factors and that badgers are not the single cause, which is why one farm will get a TB breakdown and the next-door one will not, even though they share the same social group of badgers.

Indeed it is still not possible to identify the difference between immune, infected and infectious badgers when they test positive. More than 20 years of culling have proved that this method does not work and some research shows that this can exacerbate the problem. Yet there are rumours of extended culling in addition to the experiment. Is this also to come out of the tax- payer's pocket?

With incidences of TB breakdowns increasing across the country attributed to cattle or badgers, involving different strains of TB that have never been seen before, we cannot continue to follow this blinkered approach.

Blaming the badger is a total red herring and the price of culling will mean that we shall soon run out of money and still have no answers to this serious problem.