Demand for badger cull - as charity calls for protection

FARMERS in the Cheddar area are calling for tough new laws to let them get rid of sick badgers that are threatening their livelihood

FARMERS in the Cheddar area are calling for tough new laws to let them get rid of sick badgers that are threatening their livelihood.The tuberculosis-ridden animals are spreading the disease to cattle, and farmers including Brian Ladd, from Nyland, are calling for the Government to take action.But a few miles down the road, animal charity Secret World Wildlife Rescue has started a petition trying to keep the animals protected.At the moment the law means badgers cannot be harmed. However a National Farmers' Union (NFU) report wants infected animals to be culled to stop TB being spread to cattle, pigs, deer and pet cats and dogs.Mr Ladd, who lives at Tor Farm, says the disease is a real problem in the area. The 53-year-old said: "I am in a high risk area because, although my farm has not been affected, my neighbours' have. My son also has cattle and lives in a low risk area. We used to be able to move our cattle between our farms, but he is not allowed to move his cows to my farm anymore."Not only is there the risk of TB, I have had several animals break their legs because they have stepped on ground above a badger sett which has collapsed. "Badger populations have probably doubled in the last 20 years in this area. It was a real problem in Nyland 20 years ago and it seems to be the same situation again now."Badgers are having a bad influence on farming and the effects are the economic consequences."I wouldn't want to kill them myself, but I would like to be allowed to fill in the holes to move them on or have someone take them away to test for TB." However Secret World Wildlife Rescue in East Huntspill is concerned if the law is changed thousands of badgers could be gassed or snared.A spokesman for the charity said: "We need to show the Government that we will not tolerate lethal gas or snares in our countryside." The charity is urging people to sign its petition against culling at www.blackandwhite.infoThe NFU says: "We want the Government to take action that will lead to healthy populations of both cattle and badgers with no infection from TB. "The strategy for achieving this should be based on the principle of culling infected badgers and protecting healthy ones.

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