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Badger cull to be shot down? Commons debate may halt trials

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 17, 2012

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The looming pilot cull of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset could face being voted down by MPs next week after opponents were granted the first Commons debate on the issue.

Campaigners have called for the cull, which could start any day this week, to be suspended until after the debate.

A cross party delegation of MPs, supported by campaigners – including Queen guitarist Brian May – opposed to culling hundreds of badgers, won time for the debate in the main Commons chamber next Thursday.

Ministers had approved the cull of up to 100,000 animals in an attempt to curb the growing problem of tuberculosis in cattle. In 2011, 26,000 cattle were slaughtered and bovine TB measures cost taxpayers £90m.

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Farmers say the cull is necessary to tackle rising rates of TB in cattle, as the wild animals can spread the disease to livestock, costing the industry and taxpayers millions of pounds a year.

Under the terms of the licences that have been issued for two pilot culls in the West Country, free-roaming badgers will be shot.

But the plan has provoked the largest animal rights protest since fox hunting was banned in the 1990s, and more than 155,000 people have signed a government e-petition. The success of the petition enabled MPs to win parliamentary time for the debate on October 25.

Angela Smith MP, chair of the all-party group on wildlife, said: “I am delighted because public opinion on the proposed cull is clearly against it. It is only right, in the interests of democracy, that Parliament should be able to make a decision.”

“If we win the debate in the Commons, it will be incumbent on the Government to respond. If they ignore parliamentary opinion they will stand accused of arrogance in the face of Parliament, public opinion and science.”

Jeff Hayden, of the Badger Trust, said: “Government policy must reflect the wishes of the people and that is expressed through Parliament. Now the possibility of the cull has become real and near, more people are starting to understand the facts. We are now confident that an even bigger majority of people oppose the Government’s cull.”

The trust’s solicitors have written to Natural England, which issues culling licences, stating: “In light of the Government’s own evidence that starting a cull only to stop it shortly afterwards would make matters worse in terms of spreading the disease, please confirm that Natural England will not set a start date until the debate has taken place.”

Labour MP Alison McGovern led the calls for a fresh debate. Ms McGovern said: “I’m very pleased that Parliament will have the opportunity to fully debate the Government's proposed badger cull.

“Ministers have consistently failed to bring this contentious issue to the floor of the House, despite the huge levels of public interest that all MPs will have seen in their postbags.

“People across Britain, both in rural and urban areas, care deeply about the welfare of dairy herds, but they are also very concerned that the case has not been made to justify a cull of badgers. The scientific justification is far from clear-cut, there are real questions about the efficacy of culling; and also genuine concerns over whether a cull can be conducted safely.

“Ministers will need to provide convincing answers to the public’s concerns in next Thursday’s debate.”

The Lib Dem Agriculture Minister, David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome, said: “This is such an important issue for both the farming industry and wildlife campaigners that I’m not surprised there’s a lot of demand for a parliamentary debate.

“It’s an opportunity to put right a lot of the misleading information I’ve seen recently from opponents of the cull.”

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 9:02PM

    In your dreams. We're a 'million' miles apart.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 21 2012, 8:47PM

    @ Charlespk Thats very candid Charlespk, considering I am currently in your company. :-)))

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 8:30PM

    Enjoy your ignorance of this subject. At least you are in good company.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 21 2012, 7:01PM

    @Charlespk Dear me! Beggin' your pardon Sir! I didn't realise that I had made any insinuations about your social status. Exactly how exalted should I have said it was? As for invective, was it me that said "At least I have a command of English and the real science ", Was it me that said "It's a GREAT opportunity to put right the NEVER ENDING misleading information from opponents of the cull; like the BBC, the Badger Trust, Brian May, the RSPB, the RSPCA and a host other fading 'has beens' all looking to ride piggy-back on the misery of others!!!" Was it me that said "I am merely exposing your total inability to understand the science surrounding M.bovis and the BCG vaccine." I don't believe that I have used invective, but in the light of your quoted comments why not rearrange the following at your leisure..... "Kettle".."Pot"...."Calling"...."Black"...."The"

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 3:08PM

    And reading again, you now appear to be repeatedly making insinuations about my social status, whereas I am merely exposing your total inability to understand the science surrounding M.bovis and the BCG vaccine.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 2:55PM

    Is that all you've got? . Repeated invective? that's so very sad. Now I understand why I have to pay so much income tax. There will have to be a cull of badgers because there is no other way known to mankind at this time that will stop the exponential spread of Mycobacterium Bovis in all mammals and right across the countryside of the UK. http://tinyurl.com/3zpxybr

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  • eyeopener  |  October 21 2012, 2:32PM

    @Charlespk "You just haven't got a clue have you......None of you understand and none of you listen." (high pitched, hysterical voice) For someone who claims to be so in touch with the countryside you seem unaware that "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar." I know losing the argument can be frustrating, but why not relax. Have a coffee, count to ten, and reflect on the fact that nowadays plebs have votes too! If all else fails pour yourself a drop of something you fancy, but whatever you do, it's unwise to abuse the readership.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 1:13PM

    You just haven't got a clue have you. Vaccination of cattle OR badgers is going nowhere whilst ALL we have is the 90 year old BCG. It's all just noise and bluster from a very badly informed and badly led, hysterical minority of the public. None of you understand and none of you listen. When it does get that bad, then there will have to be a really very severe cull. Even If we stopped farming cattle and slaughtered ALL tomorrow, we would still have cull ANY vector where the bacteria is self sustaining. The really SICK part of all this is that the only mammal you all pretend to care about is the badger, but you don't give a MONKEY that thousands of them are dying miserable deaths and it will goon increasing until we reduce their number drastically. Eventually it will all just hit the fan and there is nothing whatsoever you can do about it. RED ARROWS from badgerists won't change the science.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 21 2012, 12:21PM

    @ Charlesspk "At least I have a command of English and the real science surrounding these bacteria. . All you have have is the Krebs rubbish about perturbation that was caused by inefficient culling and vandals." 1) "At least I have a command of English" My English isn't always perfect, but this is usually down to 'typos'; and because we have to enter comments in a small window, and so not spotting errors as easily as you can, when you have a full screen to type in. To be honest though judging from the multiplicity of repeated comments in the same article, the reader could be forgiven for thinking your skills lay in 'copy and paste'. Then in your post timed 10:29 you begin the entire posting, not just the sentence with "And" a definite grammatical 'faux Pas'. Is "C'mon follow me!!! :)))))) " One of your more literary contributions? 2) It is Lord Krebs science that the government is relying on to promote culling, damning Krebs is damning the government pro cull case. However Lord Krebs went on to say the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is administering the scheme, has no way of knowing how many badgers there are in the area, so will not know when they've killed 70% of the badgers in the area. "I would go down the vaccination and biosecurity route rather than this crazy scheme that may deliver very small advantage, may deliver none. And it's very hard to see how Defra are going to collect the crucial data to assess whether it's worth going ahead with free shooting at all," he said. 3) Just in case this minor detail escaped you, horses and camelids are mammals and thus susceptible to TB. Did you not think the average TIS reader would realise that? 4) "And do you REALLY believe the bloodstock industry is going to let M.bovis become increasingly endemic and start affecting horses again? Frankel alone is worth £100million now. . Brian May's a pauper in that league." So it's all down to money talking is it? You seem to have an odd perception of democracy in which wealthy groups do all the deciding. I'm not sure if a mere pleb like me is not being a tad presumptious contributing here? Your attitude is enough to make even Andrew Mitchell and George Osborne look modest!

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  • Charlespk  |  October 21 2012, 10:29AM

    And do you REALLY believe the bloodstock industry is going to let M.bovis become increasingly endemic and start affecting horses again? Frankel alone is worth £100million now. . Brian May's a pauper in that league. http://tinyurl.com/9x2weyr Mycobacterial infections are very rare in horses. In the first part of 20th century mycobacterial infections in horses were mainly caused by Mycobacterium bovis. http://tinyurl.com/6tdk5oy (Lung tuberculosis in a horse)

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