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Editorial: A last-minute reprieve for badgers?

It is good news for badgers that British scientists have made a breakthrough on a vaccine against TB among cattle. Last year 26,000 cows were slaughtered after contracting bovine TB, which evidence shows can be transmitted by Mr Brock and his relatives. The bad news for badgers is that the European Union has to approve the new vaccine. This may take years.

Two pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset are about to test whether mass badger slaughter would halt the spread of the disease. They should be stopped. Experiments with gassing badgers in 2003 did not contain bovine TB.

By contrast, farming policies of identification and slaughter have reduced the incidence of bovine TB to less than half a per cent in dairy herds. The Government would be better off trying to speed the vaccine's approval. And one of our most colourful and charismatic wild animals need not be decimated.