A paper published by the Farmers' Union of Wales today (Monday July 19) suggests badger culling in north Pembrokeshire could reduce bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) incidences by around a third - and this could even be a significant underestimate.

The paper, prepared by the union's agricultural policy director Dr Nicholas Fenwick, uses computer modelling and the results of previous scientific studies to predict the outcome of badger culling in a number of areas.

It suggests that a badger cull in north Pembrokeshire could reduce bTB herd incidences by 30% during a five-year cull, and by 32% in a three-and-a-half-year period following culling.

FUW's bTB spokesman, Carmarthen dairy farmer Brian Walters, said: "There is only one approach which has been shown scientifically to reduce bTB incidences in hotspot areas where bTB is endemic in badgers, and that is culling.

"This paper builds upon the modelling work done by the Independent Science Group in 2007 and looks at what would happen in a range of different situations if the results of the English badger culling trials were replicated in other areas."

The work also highlights the fact that legislation to minimise the types of problems experienced during the English trials, such as obstruction and interference with trapping, is likely to add significantly to the positive effects seen in England.

"We know that the chances of a confirmed bTB case in cattle herds fell by between 62% and 95% in the Irish badger culling trials and we would expect a well planned cull in north Pembrokeshire, coupled with legislation to discourage interference and obstruction, to achieve results closer to those figures rather the English ones," said Mr Walters.

The paper also predicts falls in numbers of individual bTB cattle reactors in north Pembrokeshire of 15% during the culling period and 28% in a three-year period after culling, based upon the English culling trial results.

"This work shows that, even if the problems experienced during the English culls do occur, a cull could prevent around 90 herd outbreaks over an eight-and-a-half-year period, which would represent a massive reduction," added Mr Walters.

"We have already provided the Welsh Assembly Government with this evidence which we believe shows that badger culling can substantially reduce bTB in north Pembrokeshire.

"Following the Court of Appeal's recent judgement against the TB Order, we have urged the Welsh Assembly Government to do all it can to put new legislation in place to allow a cull to go ahead.

"The evidence on badger culling from the Irish and English trials is conclusive: it works, and can lead to significant reductions in bTB. The farming community in north Pembrokeshire deserves to see matters progressing towards a cull as soon as possible.

"Without decisive, science-based action we will not see the outcome we all want, which is cattle and badgers free of disease. This paper adds to the already large base of scientific evidence which shows that the Welsh Assembly Government is right to pursue a badger cull to help eradicate bTB."