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Minister "minded" to roll out badger culls despite failings

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 07, 2013

George Eustice

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The Farming Minister has said the Government is “minded” to repeat the badger culls in other areas despite the Somerset and Gloucestershire trials failing to hit their kill targets.

George Eustice, the Conservative MP for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, revealed the plan at the National Farmers Union (NFU) tenant farmers’ conference today (Thursday), according to Farmers Weekly.

The Somerset cull had succeeded in eradicating 65% of the badger population in the area – just “slightly short” of the optimum 70% target, after being extended by three weeks, he said.

“We are minded to go on next year and roll the cull out more widely,” Mr Eustice added.

“We think it has demonstrated that the culls we carried out were safe, humane and effective,” he told delegates at the Pavilions of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

“If we had hit 70% earlier we would have stopped because we don’t want to annihilate the badger population – 70% was our maximum target.

“I think it has been actually quite successful.”

Mr Eustice acknowledged there had been a more “difficult time” in Gloucestershire, where there were more footpaths, different terrain and different cropping patterns.

“We have said that we would like to add a couple of areas each year – and also we have got to sustain the cull for a period of four years in total in those zones that are affected.”

George Eustice, farm minister

But an eight-week extension to the Gloucestershire cull on the advice of the government’s chief veterinary officer would ensure the government got closer to its target.

Defra was keen to learn the lessons from both pilot zones and would be looking carefully at the “quite different results” when both culls had completed, said Mr Eustice.

The government was inclined to roll out the culls to other TB hotspot areas, he suggested.

“We have said that we would like to add a couple of areas each year – and also we have got to sustain the cull for a period of four years in total in those zones that are affected.”

Mr Eustice said it would much easier to maintain the badger population at a lower level following the initial cull.

“The first year is always the most challenging and I think we are going to learn quite a lot from these pilots,” he said.

“We are putting a lot of resources into getting this right.”

Animal welfare campaigners continue to oppose the cull, arguing that it has failed reach its targets and should be abandoned completely.

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  • Clued-Up  |  November 07 2013, 10:38PM

    Eustice is a new minister - it's sad he hasn't the political sense to distance himself from Paterson's toxic badger cull foul-up. Doesn't he realise the opposition to the badger cull is growing all the time and the groups organising the resistance are gaining many new members and donations? There are quite a few ex-Tory activists who've become keen supporters of the Hunt Sabs because of the much-loathed badger cull. Doesn't he realise how angry ordinary tax-payers will be when they see £millions they'd prefer to spend on the NHS, education, social care and community policing squandered on protecting the deeply unpopular pro-cullers?

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  • conundrum  |  November 07 2013, 10:06PM

    Oh dear...yet another 'Kill the badgers' article .....well, the previous one did attract nothing but critical comments, not surprisingly, because apart from people who are, like George Eustace MP, uncritical believers in NFU-dictated Government policy, or like Owen Patterson, have shooting estates, hardly anyone else believes the cull will do anything significant to reduce bovine TB. Sadly, that's unlikely to make any difference, because Governments and their wealthy backers have caught on to something in the past decade.....once they're in power, no matter what idiotic policies they pursue, no matter how glaringly self-serving those policies are and irrespective of the terrible consequences for ordinary people (wildlife and the environment barely register in this of course)....there's virtually nothing anyone (except possibly the Judiciary) can do about it. The badger cull is only one appalling example among so many. Owen Patterson defended hunting foxes with hounds on the grounds that they shouldn't be shot because it wasn't certain to kill them and therefore 'inhumane'. Free shooting badgers.... in the dark....well that's obviously 'safe, humane and effective'....well at least according to George Eustace anyway. He already even "thinks it has been actually quite successful." So that's it then, once you're in power you can pretty much do what you want for 5 years, fail by your own definition and lie about the outcome and keep on doing it for the exclusive benefit of a very small number of wealthy individuals. Farmers are about 2% of the working population and the NFU represents only a feeble 15% of even that 2%. Even among NFU members there's disagreement. That's effectively a tiny minority of (mostly wealthy Tory) voters, some of whom receive thousands of taxpayers money in subsidies, dictating agricultural policy for their own benefit. Democracy in modern Britain....what a wonderful thing eh?

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  • greeneagle11  |  November 07 2013, 9:58PM

    Rubbish sk!

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  • stormkettle  |  November 07 2013, 6:06PM

    The lessons to be learned are that shooting badgers is cruel and unnecessary. Farming should be assisting wildlife like badgers and foxes to thrive in their wildlife depleted world

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