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Reform of the Animal Health Act 1981

Comment 2nd July 2010

The Animal Health Act 1981 gives powers to government to make orders allowing authorised officers to enter land without permission of the landowner to carry out destruction of any wild members of a species to which the order relates that may be on that land, if the Minister is satisfied this is necessary in order to eliminate, or substantially reduce the incidence of the specified disease in animals of any kind in the area.

In light of the potential major disruption to established ecosystems due to the eradication of protected species, along with the serious infringement of the basic civil liberty to peacefully enjoyment of one's property, the wording of the Act should be tightened to 'if the Minister is satisfied this is absolutely essential to eliminate the specified disease in animals of any kind in the area'.

Why does this matter?

Recent attempts by the Welsh Assembly Government, using the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 to implement these powers to enter land and destroy badgers, against the wishes and conscience of landowners in the Welsh bTB Intensive Action Pilot Area, have led to stress, conflict, spurious arrests and disproportionate policing expense. Many landowners in the area question the necessity of the proposed badger cull, based on the weight of scientific research which has indicated that this is an ineffective and expensive disease control method, particularly as cattle infection rates are already falling due to biosecurity measures, before the cull has even begun, and badger vaccination is available as a less controversial and destructive disease control method.


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