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The Government has announced a new strategy to achieve TB free status by 2038

A strategy to achieve TB free status in England by 2038 has been announced by the Government.

This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects, investment in the development of new vaccines and improvements to the four-year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, it has also been announced that a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling. These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year. It has also been announced that cattle moving from annual testing herds must be tested before they are moved as part of the tighter cattle movement controls. Where TB is found the herd will be shut down, the reactor cattle slaughtered and intensive testing carried out in the herd and the surrounding herds. Further tightening of pre-movement testing rules has also been announced as well as new powers to slaughter cattle which cannot be tested.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: ‘The four year culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are pilots and we always expected to learn lessons from them.

‘It is crucial we get this right. Doing nothing is not an option. Bovine TB is a terrible disease which is devastating our cattle and dairy industries and causing misery for many people in rural communities.

‘We need to do everything we can, as set out in our Strategy, to make England TB free.’

BVA President Robin Hargreaves says a number of concerns have been raised from the IEP report which was published alongside the announcement.

He said: ‘Clearly the headlines from the IEP report raise a number of concerns about the humaneness and efficacy of controlled shooting of badgers. It is regrettable that the Secretary of State has announced his decision on the way forward without consulting key stakeholders, including BVA.

 ‘To date BVA has supported the use of targeted, humane badger culling in carefully selected areas as part of a comprehensive approach to tackling bovine TB. But we have made it clear that we can only support badger culling if the method used is humane, safe and effective.

 ‘Bovine TB is a devastating disease and we know that we need a comprehensive package of measures to tackle the disease in cattle and wildlife if we are to stop the advancing spread of TB northwards and eastwards. 

‘Regardless of our future response to the findings of the IEP, we will only be able to eradicate bovine TB if we tackle the disease in the wildlife reservoir as well as cattle.’

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