A Canadian cattle industry group and Alberta's premier said that they believe it is time to look at a cull of older animals to restore international confidence in Canadian beef after two cows tested positive for mad cow disease in the last 10 days, according to the Canadian Press.

Stan Eby, a representative of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said that a cull would send a strong message to Canada's trading partners, especially the U.S. where protectionist interests are fighting plans to reopen the border to Canadian cattle. "The perception and reality would be that Canada is taking very aggressive steps to clean up a potential problem," Eby said.

"Is a cull necessary? Yes," Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said Wednesday in Toronto following a luncheon speech. Klein said earlier he would be discussing a cull with federal Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell and Alberta Agriculture Minister Doug Horner.

Once rejected as an extreme reaction, a cull is being considered after another Alberta cow tested positive this week for BSE, even though it was born after feed bans aimed at preventing the disease were implemented.

A spokesman for Alberta's feedlots said the industry raised the issue of a cull to deal with older animals within months of the first cow testing positive for BSE in May 2003, but was rebuffed by federal and provincial governments. "We got tremendous push-back, that they weren't going down that road, so we backed off, but a cull has always been one of the strategies industry has talked about," said Ron Axelson of the Alberta Cattle Feeders. "No government wants to be seen as supporting or condoning a cull of perfectly good animals," he said.