12:07 27 August 2013
The National Farmers' Union has said the badger cull has begun. Approximately 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire. This is expected to be in controlled shootings and is expected to be over the coming six weeks. The cull aims to stop TB spreading.
Those in support of the cull view that it is needed to prevent TB spreading.
Meanwhile those against the cull have said it is ‘inhumane’.
It is understood that TB can be spread from badgers that have the disease.
As pointed out in one report by the BBC, the badgers will be culled in the open and not be trapped in cages first.
National Farmers' Union President Peter Kendall said in a letter to members: "I am writing to let you know that the first pilot badger control operations have begun.
"This is an important step not just for cattle farmers but for the whole farming industry.
Adding: “I know that many of you reading this will have suffered the misery of dealing with TB on farm - some of you for decades - and I hope now you will feel that something is finally being done to stem the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.”
Adding: “I hope that when time shows that these culls have reduced TB in cattle - just as has happened in Ireland - that even more people will understand that while sad, these culls are absolutely necessary.”
Those against the cull have protested against it.
There has been a vigil held by protesters last night, on 26th August.
After the National Farmers' Union announcement, Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, said: “We know that despite the strict controls we already have in place, we won't get on top of this terrible disease until we start dealing with the infection in badgers as well as in cattle. That's the clear lesson from Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the USA.
Adding: “That is why these pilot culls are so important. We have to use every tool in the box because TB is so difficult to eradicate and it is spreading rapidly.
“If we had a workable vaccine we would use it.”
Mr. Paterson added that the vaccine was some years off being completed.
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