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Badger culls 'decisively failed' say MPs as they tell Government not to approve any more

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset 'decisively failed' against Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs criteria, a cross-party group of MPs say

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MPs will today urge the Government to stop badger culls and refrain from approving new ones.

Pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset “decisively failed” against Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) criteria, a cross-party group of MPs say in a motion to be debated in the Commons.

They have also criticised the costs of policing the culls and the lack of debate and a vote in Parliament to extend the trials.

The pilot culls were due to run for six weeks, with the aim of killing 70 per cent of badgers in each area, but both schemes were extended after initial figures suggested 58 per cent of badgers were eradicated in Somerset and 30 per cent in Gloucestershire.

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Alternative plans to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle should be considered while the culls are halted, the MPs add.

The Government plans to roll out the culls more widely in England if it can be done effectively, safely and humanely.

But a leaked review by independent experts assessing the pilot schemes reportedly found the number of badgers being killed in each area was much lower than the level needed to have a beneficial impact on TB outbreaks in herds.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson previously insisted badgers had ”moved the goalposts” and made a cull more difficult.

He has also suggested gassing badgers is a possibility but only if evidence could prove it was humane and effective.

Contraception for badgers is also set to be included in the Government’s blueprint to eradicate bovine tuberculosis in cattle, along with vaccines.

Conservative Anne Main (St Albans), who will lead the backbench business debate in the Commons, said: “I am asking the Government to pause, reflect and adapt its policy for tackling bovine TB.

“The pilot culls have failed on all of the Government1s own criteria, including humaneness.

“I do not believe the Government should allow more licences to be granted until members have considered, debated, and voted on the motion before the House.”

Activist and Queen guitarist Brian May, who is the founder of Save Me and Team Badger, added it was time to abandon the “badger cull shambles”.

He called for a vaccination of badgers and other wildlife alongside prioritising work to licence a cattle vaccine.

The full text of the motion tabled by Mrs Main, and supported by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Labour’s Barry Sheerman and Lib Dem Adrian Sanders, says: “That this House believes that the pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset have decisively failed against the criteria set out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in guidance to Natural England for licensing of the culls, which stipulated that 70 per cent of the badger population should be culled within a six-week period; notes that the costs of policing, additional implementation and monitoring, and the resort to more expensive cage-and-trap methods over an extended period have substantially increased the cost of the culls, and strengthened the financial case for vaccination; regrets that the decision to extend the original culls has not been subject to any debate or vote in Parliament; further regrets that the Independent Expert Panel will only assess the humaneness, safety and effectiveness of the original six-week period and not the extended cull period; and urges the Government to halt the existing culls and granting of any further licences, pending development of alternative strategies to eradicate bovine TB and promote a healthy badger population.”

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  • Free2opine  |  March 14 2014, 4:06PM

    mmjames......the only place they are likely to have come into contact with a cattle beast, is on the dinner plate and I am almost certain that they think a farmer works in a farmacy (sic), which is even more worrying. ......and as for the last sentence, who knows what they think OIE stands for, let alone the regulations associated with it!!! It's all so depressing. :((( Perhaps a coach trip could be arranged for all these townies to visit a farm, preferably a farm that has to have their animals slaughtered due to bTB.

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  • mmjames  |  March 14 2014, 3:45PM

    Free2opine | March 14 2014, 12:22PM What I find surreal, is, that of those MP's who voted and who had not seen the ACTUAL report, many of them will never have come across a badger in the whole of the lives ...................... Do you think they have met a farmer or even a cattle beast? - or one of those other mammals suffering from the contamination of pasture by Zoonotic Tunerculosis? Have they even heard of the OIE? despite THE government they 'run'? having signed up to a Statutory Duty under OIE regulations to deal with Zoonotic Tuberculosis?

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  • Free2opine  |  March 14 2014, 12:29PM

    or even "whole of their lives"

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  • Free2opine  |  March 14 2014, 12:22PM

    What I find surreal, is, that of those MP's who voted and who had not seen the ACTUAL report, many of them will never have come across a badger in the whole of the lives. Even if they were to visit the "countryside," how many of them would go out of their way to look for badgers!? How many of them are living in the countryside and of those, how many of them live in affected areas!? We are probably, now down to a figure around 20 who are even remotely affected! The others are towing party lines and are more than likely worried about their cushy jobs and losing their over inflated salaries.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  March 14 2014, 11:35AM

    Considering that this was a debate on a report that none of the MP's have read, it just goes to show for every MP that blindly votes for, 219 will blindly vote against British farming. It's no wonder with this level of blind-farmer hate in Westminster why this disease has gone out of control in the badger species.

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  • Free2opine  |  March 14 2014, 11:00AM

    continuation. Where there was disagreement was on precisely how fluffy and wonderful badgers are, an argument which led to a series of increasingly surreal moments. Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) called on the House to read "the finest poem ever written about badgers" – a famously well-served literary genre – and claimed that mankind had treated badgers "appallingly, for hundreds of years". "We should love and respect the badger," said St Francis of Huddersfield, soft starlight twinkling in his grandfatherly eyes, "as we do the fox and the cattle." At this point a bluebird alighted gently on his head, but was shooed from the chamber by the deputy speaker. After rescuing a baby deer from underneath the public gallery, Sheerman added that "during the flooding, I rang the House of Commons library to find out if badgers can swim". They can, if called upon, you will be relieved to know. Bill Wiggin (Con, North Herefordshire), by contrast, claimed that badgers had it easy, unlike our nation's hardworking cows. "What applies to one species should apply to all!" he spluttered. "If we slaughter cattle, we should slaughter badgers!" And if we ride horses, we should ride geese, he presumably meant to add. He also worried that it was hard to know how long it took a badger to die when you hit it with a bullet ("I shot a badger in Reno, just to watch him die"). David Amess (Con, Southend West) claimed that badgers had a "unique culture", perhaps including a rich oral history and a tradition of interpretive dance. Paul Flynn (Lab, Newport West), who looks a bit like a badger himself, made the two cattiest comments of the day, accusing Simon Hart (Con, Carmarthen & Pembrokeshire) of "advocating killing small animals for fun", and describing Defra as "Do Everything Farmers' Representatives Ask". This was unimportant. Wiggin brought worse news to our attention. "My constituents do have cattle. And they do have TB." Perhaps badgers shouldn't be our highest priority.

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  • Free2opine  |  March 14 2014, 10:57AM

    OR to put it another way!!!!!! All honourable members agree they don;’t know what they;’re talking about ... March 13 2014 | Tom Chivers | Earth It's heartening, in these partisan times, to see cross-party consensus, especially on a divisive issue such as the badger cull. "We must follow the science!" roared honourable member after honourable member. Evidence-based policy is the absolute key to ending the scourge of bovine tuberculosis. To a man and woman, they concurred: the science must come first. It was especially pleasing to note that every single one of them also agreed that "the science" told them to do what they had already wanted to do anyway. That wasn't all they agreed on. They all agreed that they didn't really know what they were talking about. They even got competitive about it. Geoffrey Clifton Brown (Con, The Cotswolds) roared that they hadn't yet been given the Independent Expert Panel report into the culls, which was conveniently sitting on the desk of Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, where nobody could see it, and so none of them had a scooby what to do. Geoffrey Robinson (Lab, Coventry North West) insisted that he knew even less: "I'm not a scientist or a farmer, just a layman," he intoned, and so, unlike Clifton Brown, who didn't know what he was talking about merely in general, Robinson, didn't know what he was talking about specifically.

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  • mmjames  |  March 14 2014, 9:46AM

    Yes agree MP's are better informed, that's why most stayed away instead of wasting their time. They KNOW that some way of culling WILL and does happen. All the badgerists have done is drive it underground - pun intended!

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  • Clued-Up  |  March 13 2014, 5:26PM

    MPs voted 219 - 1 against the badger cull. They were much better informed this time round and there was real anger about the government's dishonesty when arguing for the badger cull and its lack of transparency.

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