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Environment Secretary Owen Paterson: "Badgers move around."

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: November 21, 2013

badger

The minister said last month: "Badgers have moved the goalposts."

Comments (3)

Owen Paterson today reminded MPs that badgers can move around – weeks after suggesting the animals had "moved the goalposts" and made a cull more difficult to implement.

The Environment Secretary made the remark when challenged by Labour's Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) as to why badgers were being killed on farms which did not have cattle.

Mr Paterson said: "You must understand badgers move around. When they are super excretors and they move onto cattle farms, sadly they are very effective transmitters of this disease.

"That is why we are addressing this disease not just in cattle but also in wildlife."

Ms McCarthy had asked: "Recent figures from Natural England show only 60% of the farms in the West Somerset cull zone contained cattle and only 43% of the farms in West Gloucestershire.

"Why is the Government culling badgers on farms without cattle?"

The disease, said to be spread by badgers and cattle, led to the slaughter of 28,000 animals last year – more than 20,000 in the South West – at a cost of £100 million to the taxpayer.

The two "pilot" culls – in Somerset and Gloucestershire – will determine the prospects of expanding to up to 40 culls from next year.

A roll-out could mean culling in neighbouring Devon and even into Cornwall – both considered bovine TB hotspots.

An independent panel of experts is to assess whether the "pilots" have been successful. Ministers are confident of proceeding despite falling short of the required number of badger killed.

In a bid to make the case for the cull earlier in the questions session, Mr Paterson said: "In the 10 years to December 31, 2012, 305,268 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered as reactors or direct contacts (with TB) in Great Britain.

"Since January 1 to the end of August a further 22,512 otherwise perfectly healthy cattle have been slaughtered solely because of bovine TB."

Speaking last month on the BBC's Spotlight programme in the West Country whether he was "moving the goalposts" by extending the period for the controversial cull, Mr Paterson said: "That's not right, the badgers have moved the goalposts.

"You are dealing with wild animals. It is a wild animal subject to the vagaries of the weather, disease and breeding patterns."

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3 comments

  • Pink_Diesel  |  November 21 2013, 4:24PM

    Paterson gave the wrong answer. The reason is that 70% of an area has to be within a cull zone. To get up to the 70% then arable land has to be added into the area. Somewhere I have seen a document as to how the cull is paid for. Livestock farmers pay in on a headage basis. But pure arable farmers also pay in on an acreage basis. Arable farmers are expected to chip in for the good of all farming. Nothing to do with badgers "moving"; however Ms McCarthy should have been better informed before asking her question.

  • Barri  |  November 21 2013, 12:49PM

    Paterson and the murdering of innocent Badgers - not so much no-brainer, more like no-brain.

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  • groundnut  |  November 21 2013, 12:23PM

    Once again we have an answer loaded with misinformation. Kerry McCarthy MP was quite right to ask a question on culling within areas where no cattle exist. Particularly as in Glos. Where less than 43%of Farms are in that category. This information would not have come to light if it had not been raised under a Freedom of Information act question. And serves to underline the other politics connected with this cull. The purpose of this cull was towards the eradication of Bovine TB. It was always known that perturbation or the spread of Bovine TB would occur as the result of any culling exercise. What was not known was the extent to which that would occur. Estimates were made both of the expected Badger population, and of the best guess by licence approval of, how many it was necessary to kill in order to minimise that effect. As we all know the numbers present and the numbers killed were shuffled constantly by smoke and mirrors. As we are also aware Professor David Macdonald questioned precisely this fact on the calculation of Figures, before the Glos. Extension licence was granted. The question was asked by Natural England to DEFRA—how was this figure arrived at? DEFRA did not reply to that question. Professor Macdonald declined to support licence approval, but was overridden. Paterson Politics at play again. WHY disturb Badger Social groups in areas without cattle, if you do not know whether they areTB infected or not. And why risk any perturbation effect onto other farms, particularly cattle farms. When you do not have to. Or until you have established which setts are tb infected, or until you decide that the way forward is to vaccinate those setts on which no cattle are present. Presumably shooting estates or rich landowners, or those just wanting to get rid of Badgers. This is the Politics of Owen Paterson DEFRA and the NFU. This is what angers so many. Again his ignorance of the subject, his arrogance and his bypass of expert scientific advice. But the truth is slowly leaking out. Is it Moving goalposts, or moving badgers or Badgers moving goalposts—Or just Owen Paterson struggling with science ??

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