A new report looking into the Welsh government’s strategy to tackle bovine TB has revealed that five badgers were culled during 2017, costing £383,212.
The ‘Badger Found Dead’ report reviews the outcome of localised badger culling on three farms in Wales between August and November 2017.
The culling was rolled out in parts of Wales in March 2017, in efforts to control the spread of TB in cattle.
Figures released by Defra showed an increase of 27% in the number of cattle slaughtered in Wales due to bovine TB.
The disease remains the biggest threat to Wales’ beef and dairy industry in large parts of the country – over 10,000 cattle in Wales were slaughtered last year as a result of bovine TB.
The rise prompted fresh calls for the culling programme to be extended.
Across the three farms, badgers trapped and tested for TB were killed if they tested positive for the disease.
The total cost of the trapping test and removal policy including staff costs, equipment, field surveys, hair trapping, cage trapping, sett side blood tests and post mortems was £383,212 or £76,662 for each badger killed.
NFU Cymru described the findings of this report as “very disappointing” due to the low number of farmers and badgers involved.
Some farmers have criticised the Welsh government’s strategy as being too costly due to demands to make their farms more biosecure.
NFU Cymru President, John Davies said: “The Badger Found Dead survey highlights that in some areas of Wales one in five badgers are suffering from the disease.
“We have always said all available options must be used to control and eradicate this devastating disease, including cattle testing, movement controls, biosecurity, vaccination when available and where appropriate, as well as measures to actively address the proven incidence of disease in wildlife.
Mr Davies added: “We urgently need to look at the lessons learned from other countries who have implemented successful programmes to actively address this persistent issue and significantly reduce the impact of this awful disease on cattle, wildlife and farming families.”
Badger Trust used the report to call the Welsh government’s strategy a “shockingly costly failure”, and calls for the government to concentrate on clearing out the reservoir of infection in cattle herds.