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CONFIRMED: Badger cull to be delayed

By This is Devon  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

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Controversial plans to cull thousands of badgers in the South West to tackle tuberculosis in cattle are to be delayed until next summer, it has been announced.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told MPs that culling was originally delayed by the Olympics and legal proceedings, and now by bad weather and the news that there were more badgers in the cull areas than previously estimated.

As a result, farmers could not be confident they could cull enough badgers this year and two pilot culls that were due to start imminently will now take place next summer.

Mr Paterson insisted the Government remained absolutely committed to the policy of culling, which he said he was “utterly convinced” was the right thing to do.

Speaking as Queen guitarist and campaigner against the cull Brian May listened in the House of Commons, Mr Paterson said the science showed that at least 70% of badgers must be removed from an area for there to be a reduction in TB in cattle.

Last week it emerged there were many more badgers in the two areas in the south west of England licensed for pilot culls than previously estimated, with some 3,600 in the West Gloucestershire area and 4,300 in West Somerset.

“Despite a greatly increased effort over the last few days and weeks, the farmers delivering this policy have concluded that they cannot be confident that it will be possible to remove enough badgers based on these higher numbers and considering the lateness of the season,” Mr Paterson said.

“It would be wrong to go ahead if those on the ground cannot be confident of removing at least 70% of the populations.”

He said he had received a letter from the National Farmers’ Union explaining why the pilot culls could not go ahead this year and requesting a postponement until next summer, a decision he said he respected.

And he said: “Having looked at all the evidence over many years, I am utterly convinced that badger control is the right thing to do, and indeed the higher than expected badger numbers only serve to underline the need for urgent action. I remain fully committed to working with the farming industry to ensure that the pilot culls can be delivered effectively, safely and humanely next summer.”

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  • JonnyGlenholt  |  October 24 2012, 12:02PM

    It's so hard to know who to believe. Multimillionaire Owen Paterson, graduate of the British School of Leather Technology, who thinks culling works, or world-renowned animal behaviour scientist The Lord Krebs Kt, MA, DPhil, FRS, FMedSci, Hon DSc, Principal of Jesus College Oxford, who has shown it doesn't. It's a toughie, all right.

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 24 2012, 10:51AM

    The badger cull programme should be permanently killed off ... perhaps it has been. Tighter cattle controls have already - within a 12 month period - reduced the incidence of cattle bTB by twice the amount the "best case" scenario could expect from 4 years of slaughtering badgers. Further controls are coming in in January and are likely to ratchet up further improvements. The government should be pushing ahead with the UK trials of the new cattle bTB vaccine ASAP. With a bit of oomph behind the programme, it might take only months to complete the UK trials of what has already proved to be a safe, effective vaccine elsewhere and to remove the current EU obstacles to exporting meat and milk products from vaccinated cattle. All it takes is political will and some assistance to farmers in meeting the initial vaccination costs.

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  • vulcan  |  October 23 2012, 1:39PM

    A face saving backout for the coalition and good job too

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