Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 5:38 PM

Subject: PRESS RELEASE: BRECON BEACONS CULL RISES TO 7,000

 

THE NATIONAL FOOT & MOUTH GROUP

PRESS RELEASE:   4 August 2001

DISASTROUS NEWS FOR THE BRECON BEACONS AS CULL TOLL RISES TO NEARLY 7,000

BUT WELSH ASSEMBLY CLAIMS THIS IS 'BETTER NEWS'

In a bizarre press release late yesterday the Welsh Assembly report "Better
news on the Brecon Beacons".  However the report goes on to say that 1,300
more sheep will have to be culled.

Of the 10,000 - 12,000 sheep on Pen Y Fan, with today's cull,  up to 70% will
be destroyed as the cull total rises to nearly 7,000.

The approach of the Assembly is that "a robust approach to culling will
eradicate the disease", but so far this does not appear to be the case.

The cull on the Beacons has already seen 5,400 sheep slaughtered, with the
cull today of a further 1,300  the total mounts to 6,700.  And more tests are
due to be carried out.

Ashford Price, a tourism operator in the area said "This is not good news, it
is an absolute disaster.  With yet more culls the possibility of any recovery
for tourism this season is hopeless.  The situation is completely out of
control."

The sadness is that there can be no assurance that these culls will in fact
eradicate the disease, which many consider has already passed through the
hefted flocks leaving some sheep in each flock with antibodies.  However the
approach of the Assembly appears to treat the cull of the 1,300 more sheep as
dangerous contacts.

Dr Ruth Watkins, who has submitted a limited vaccination scheme to control
the disease in the hefted flocks to the Welsh Assembly, said  "We could gone
on ad infinitum testing the hefts only to find yet more and more have been
partially exposed to the disease.  Resulting in yet more and more flocks
being culled until there are none left.  The only certain way to halt chains
of acute infections moving through the flocks is to vaccinate.  This would
then prevent any further onward transmission of the disease through the sheep
of the flock or from flock to flock."

One of the few foreign tourists in the area said "It is madness what is
happening to this wonderful landscape, I cannot believe that they are killing
all these healthy sheep, because a handful have, at some stage, been
infected."

The Welsh Assembly minister for Rural Affairs believes that the disease has
been spreading from one original point and that this robust culling will
eradicate the disease.

Only time will tell if Carwyn Jones is right.  It could well be that it is
not the disease that is eradicated but the irreplaceable hefted flocks.

Contacts and Interviews:  Janet Bayley:   01285 644319      Dr Ruth Watkins: 
01550 740660

Ashford Price: 01639 730693

Photo and film opportunities in Brecon Beacons