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WMN opinion: How much longer before we see badger cull report?

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 14, 2014

Comments (5)

How much longer can ministers bat away the increasingly strident requests for information about the pilot badger culls with the assertion that the report from the independent experts has “yet to be published?” Not very much longer, in our view. While the Western Morning News has consistently backed the coalition Government’s courage and commitment in pressing ahead with a cull policy to beat bovine TB – as part of an overall strategy including vaccination and cattle movement restrictions – we do now need some clarity on the next stage of the culling process.

It is clear that the culls carried out in Somerset and Gloucestershire were not meant to test whether or not the practice of removing badgers to try to break the cycle of TB infection should be pursued. Rather they were meant, as pilots, to trial the method of shooting badgers, free running and in cages, in order to establish methods that are both efficient and humane. Government ministers have repeatedly said no country in the world has brought bovine TB under control without tackling it in the wild. Neither Owen Paterson, George Eustice nor the Prime Minister himself could have been clearer on their commitment to maintain a culling policy as one of the weapons in the armoury. To make a U-turn now would be political suicide.

But how they proceed must, surely, be informed by the independent expert panel’s report. It was due in February and while it may be reasonable, as Farming Minister Mr Eustice, told the WMN this week, not to press the experts to come up with their conclusions, we cannot wait for ever. If the report indicates some badgers took longer than would be acceptable to die or if it highlights other shortcomings, the Government is going to have to take on board those points and answer them. It may be worried about releasing the report, given the already heightened emotions on this issue, but it cannot suppress it.

Labour’s Shadow environment secretary Huw Irranca-Davies told the House of Commons he understood the report had arrived on the Secretary of State’s desk yesterday. Once it has been read by ministers it must be published. Farmers – and indeed animal welfare campaigners – should not be made to wait to know precisely what can be learnt from the pilot culls and how that might change future culling strategy. The speculation filling this vacuum is helping no one.

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  • barney2  |  March 14 2014, 10:00PM

    Hard to keep a secret these days. The Internal police review now leaked, makes interesting reading. Perhaps the Government should back charge the NFU for police cost since the police seem to have been working for them.

    Rate   17
  • barney2  |  March 14 2014, 9:22PM

    Mr WMN you will get to see it after it has been amended and re- amended until Paterson / Eustice except it. The final RBCT report was also amended. You can only expect half truths when these people are involved. The WMN is usually very happy to publish half truths and cherry picked information so be patient. Paterson / Eustice keep telling us that no country in the world has brought Btb under control without tackling it in wildlife despite the fact that in the past it has been brought under control in the UK without killing wildlife. They tell us that in France they cull wild boars in the area when Btb is detected in a herd, what they don't tell you is that they also slaughter the whole herd. They tell us that in New Zealand they cull possums, what they don't tell us is that they were culling possums for years because of the damage they do before they tackled Btb and in that time numbers of infected cattle kept rising. The big one is the Republic Of Ireland Paterson / Eustice tell us that they got the disease under control be culling badgers, a claim that not even the Irish government make, they make statements like we believed it helped but they never say that it did. In fact the numbers of reactors in the ROI over the last 50 years clearly show that culling badgers did not help and it could be argued that it actually made the situation worst. The ROI were having no success with reducing numbers until 1999 when after a couple of bad years they rolled out 2 new test that hastened the detection and removal of infected cattle, then and only then did numbers start reducing. The BBC also made the claim that the ROI got the disease under control by culling badgers, a FARMER complained the BBC trust that this was not backed up by any scientific fact, the Trust found in favour of the farmer but are not publishing it's findings yet, Wonder why ?, perhaps they are waiting for permission from the government. In fact there is no evidence that culling wildlife helped to get the disease under control anywhere in the world. Eustice also complains that the Labour government did nothing to get the disease under control, well neither did the conservatives until they were forced to by the European Commission in 2011.

    Rate   16
  • Clued-Up  |  March 14 2014, 9:18PM

    The only choice the ConDems have over the badger cull is WHEN they pull the plug on it (will it be next week or will they try to hang on, attracting more contempt and dissent by the day?). Further developments - the "Independent" has unearthed Somerset Police's internal review saying the police showed bias and behaved oppressively towards the protesters. They've disciplined some officers for their misbehaviour. I await with interest the internal reviews of Gloucestershire Constabulary and the other police services which I feel sure will home in on similar or worse police misbehaviour.

    Rate   16
  • twigcat  |  March 14 2014, 6:42PM

    I think Owen and George committed political suicide a while ago. It's merely a question now of how best to remove and dispose of the infected carcasses.

    Rate   17
  • Pink_Diesel  |  March 14 2014, 10:06AM

    Spies in the world of nature conservation have said the reporrt was sent in draft to Defra some time back but Patrson returned it as he was not happy with it. Let's hope that alongside the revised report that the draft report is leaked.

    Rate   18