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David Heath: Why I authorised badger cull pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire

By WestGaz_News  |  Posted: September 26, 2012

David Heath

Somerset MP and farming minister David Heath

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Somerset MP and farming minister David Heath has defended his decision to authorise a badger cull.

Writing in tomorrow's Western Gazette he says if there was another option, he would have taken it.

His comments came after more than 110,000 people signed an e-petition calling on the Government to abandon badger culls due to take place in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

In his weekly MP's column, Mr Heath writes: "I don't know anyone who relishes the idea of killing that most popular species the badger.

"If there was a satisfactory alternative to the small pilot culls which I have now authorised, then believe me I would have taken it, and I still would."

Mr Heath defends the decision not to use vaccination as an alternative to a badger cull, saying it would be impracticable and vastly expensive.

He also dismisses claims that a badger cull will wipe out the species as "nonsense," pointing out that in TB free areas like West Sussex no badgers will be targeted.

But the Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs admits a cull will not eradicate bovine TB on its own.

"Taken with other measures on cattle-to-cattle contact and biosecurity, it will result in a substantial reduction," he writes.

"I think we owe it to everyone to try. If a real alternative exists, I would be delighted. At the moment, it doesn't."

Read Mr Heath's column in the Western Gazette tomorrow.

Read more from Western Daily Press

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  • Emwye  |  September 26 2012, 5:47PM

    oops sorry...last post should read That the tory bow group want to "scrap" badger cull plans.

    |   5
  • 2ladybugs  |  September 26 2012, 5:42PM

    120,000 signatures out of between 56/60 million population in England and Wales alone. Not a very good percentage against it..aw :((

    |   -14
  • Emwye  |  September 26 2012, 5:41PM

    2ladybugs - these are not my figures theyare the CONSERVATIVE Bow group's figures, headed by Sir John Major, who opposes the cull. They mean 80% of the Voting Public, and it is based on a survey that these Conservatives carried for thier own research. Other polls including one by the BBC have similar results. You can look it up on their webiste - the Bow Group, Where they say, "bow group urges government to a**** badger cull plans". Several senior Tories belong to this group. http://tinyurl.com/blkd4yv

    |   12
  • Emwye  |  September 26 2012, 5:32PM

    p.s. if you dont agree with Mr Heath and don't want the cull in Somerset then tell him so! over 120000 have already Sign the e-petition on governement website http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

    |   12
  • Emwye  |  September 26 2012, 5:20PM

    The majority in this country are opposed but the government don't seem to mind. The conservative Bow group say 80% are against the cull. The numbers of badgers you need to kill for a modest reduction in bTB - 70% for a 16% reduction if the cull is "successful" just doesn't make sense to people. And it doesn't help that the pilots are trying totally different methods to those studied so far (e.g. free shooting). It simply isn't good enough to want to 'try out' killing lots of badgers in the hope it helps farmers just a bit. Doesn't it make more sense to opt for a scientific course which doesn't shed badger blood and alienate the majority of the country? The public would far prefer you spend money on vaccination pilots and biosecurity measures than on policing anti-cull protests, which really would be a total waste of resources.

    |   13
  • 2ladybugs  |  September 26 2012, 4:42PM

    Good for you David Heath........you know it makes sense. Making unpopular decisions is not for the faint hearted, but, somebody has to bite the bullet to get a clean population of both wildlife and farmed animals.

    |   -15

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