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Friday, October 19

Badgers v boffins
Science needs to prove that it is necessary to cull badgers to stop the spread of bovine TB, before animals are killed Sir, In the increasingly charged debate on bovine TB and culling badgers (letter, Oct 17), little weight is given to the annual cost of compensating farmers for culled cattle or implementing the vaccination of badgers (or possibly both) but this expenditure may form the basis of Defras position that there is no alternative workable solution for dealing quickly with this rising epidemic. The emphasis is on workable, and unfortunately the EU is unlikely to sanction a cattle vaccine in the near future. If we remove the sentiment and note the healthy population, the culling of badgers might be viewed as no worse than poisoning rats to prevent disease, shooting red deer to protect habitat, eradicating ruddy ducks to stop interbreeding with rare species or trapping moles to keep our lawns looking nice. However, what is at stake, based on the decision to kill an animal perceived by many to be iconic, is the need for science to prove that such drastic measures are realistically effective in preventing the spread of this disease. Rob Yorke Abergavenny, Monmouthshire