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We'll stop badger cull, Labour tells conference

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 23, 2013

Comments (13)

Labour has pledged to halt the expansion of badger culling if the party wins the general election.

The party, which refused to sanction killing of badgers to curb the spread of bovine tuberculosis when in power, has made its most explicit statement to date on the controversial measure during Labour conference in Brighton yesterday.

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary also told the Western Morning News she believed two pilot badger culls in the South West would be pulled if – as sources have indicated to the WMN – the shooting is proved ineffective.

Mrs Creagh told delegates in the main conference hall: "A 'One Nation' Labour government won't be rolling out the disastrous badger cull."

TB-infected cows are arguably the biggest problem facing farmers in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset.

Most were pleased when the coalition Government backed culling among a series of measures to stop the spread after they came to power in 2015.

But Labour has always argued shooting badgers – which spread the disease – is an ineffective way to reduce herd breakdowns and a greater focus should be focused on vaccination.

The party has now renewed its opposition, and gone as far as saying it would stop the current Government's policy in its tracks.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has promised that as many as 40 cull areas could eventually be up-and-running, with shooting likely to take place in Cornwall and Devon.

But the roll-out is dependent on the success of two pilots, one near Exmoor and the other in west Gloucestershire, which began last month. An expansion depends on whether trained marksmen shooting free-running badgers is safe, humane and effective.

Sources recently revealed to the WMN one of two pilot culls in the South West risked failing as only a handful of badgers are being shot daily.

The total was said to be "well below 100" – a tiny proportion of the 2,000 badgers which need to be culled.

Of preventing any expansion, Mrs Creagh told the WMN: "We've said there will be no roll-out because we do not think it is the right thing to do. We know it spreads bovine TB in the short-term. So it costs farmers more than it would save them. And we know there is a public cost to policing the cull. We've seen that with these culls that have started."

Of fears not enough animals are being killed, the shadow minister said: "We're not getting anything back from ministers as to whether the numbers are coming in right.

"And we'll find out after the middle of November when the culls have ended. Let's wait and see what ministers think of the results, because I think it may be – and I don't know – but Owen Paterson may get advised to stop the culls before we get in Government."

She added: "If what you are reporting is true on effectiveness, then I think it is a strong possibility it won't make year two."

Last week, Farming Minister David Heath told the WMN there is "no reason" to think the Somerset badger cull is not killing sufficient animals but admitted the workload is taking its "toll" on marksmen.

Some 26,000 infected cattle were slaughtered in England annually, at a cost to the taxpayer of £100 million.

Figures released by the Government earlier this year showed the disease remaining at the same level as 2012 – one of the worst in recent history – with a 30% rise in the number of herds infected.

Ministers argue every country to have tackled bovine TB has had to reduce the disease in the wildlife.

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  • mmjames  |  September 24 2013, 10:15AM

    BrockStripes Monday, September 23 2013, 11:19PM Go and find someone who actually worked on those trials and ask them.

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  • BrockStripes  |  September 23 2013, 11:19PM

    Regards the 'relentless spread' of bTB which the pro-cull faction like to blame on 'relocated badgers' yet they can provide not a single jot of proof to back up their wild claims. IF indeed badgers have played any part in this, is far more likely to be as a direct result of illegal killing of badgers by farmers and landowners and the resultant 'peturbation effect' from disturbing established setts. The morons who admit to illegal killing and dumping of badgers on roadsides, are more than likely encouraging the disease to spread as a direct result of their own stupid actions.

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  • mmjames  |  September 23 2013, 10:48PM

    barney2 Monday, September 23 2013, 8:55PM Scotland is lucky to have been a bit too far for ARA's to dump badgers 'rescued' from the Kreb's trials. Note the spread of Zoonotic Tuberculosis outwards from the SW.... maps here: http://tinyurl.com/pngfrb3 Posters do suggest that farming practices are to blame, wonder why these bad farming practices spread in this way?

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  • stormkettle  |  September 23 2013, 10:35PM

    The intentional killing of badgers has been instigated by, amongst others; the NFU, Countryside Alliance ,National Beef Association, the Country Landowners Association and and various wildlife-despising farming journalists who have been printing misleading lies and false propaganda to try and justify killing badgers (they failed to convince anyone other than themselves) This badger culling policy has shown up farming attitudes to be wildlife violalating, and backwards in outlook. Something better change

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  • barney2  |  September 23 2013, 8:55PM

    It mat be true that other country's that have tackled BTB has culled it's wildlife but because other measures were also taken nobody can say for sure in any country how much difference the wildlife cull made. It was just done as a matter of course. Scotland however became BTB free without killing it's wildlife. Defra's own paper on the cull say's a badger cull will reduce the increase of the disease by up to 16% over a nine year period. it will not help to reduce present levels. This is a very small amount and scientist outside of Detra say that it is not worth the cost involved. The only scientific experts on BTB in favour of a cull work for Defra. Defra are keeping everybody in the dark, they are doing all they can to make sure that we will never know how many badgers were killed during this cull or whether the badgers were killed humanly. Paterson and Cameron are determined to roll out a nationwide cull.

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  • Clued-Up  |  September 23 2013, 2:07PM

    Re: "Last week, Farming Minister David Heath told the WMN ...the workload is taking its "toll" on marksmen." It seems highly likely Gloucestershire Police will be required to fully re-investigate the incident where cull operators (armed with rifles) apparently shot deliberately at protesters in the next field. This was a witnessed event and is the subject of a formal complaint to the police. If the re-investigation establishes those armed cull operators were guilty of behaviour designed to put the protesters in fear for their safety, then those shooters might be sent for trial at the Crown Court for offences which carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison. Presumably the shooters' gun licences would be suspended immediately they were charged.

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  • JuliaMichell  |  September 23 2013, 1:58PM

    Typical bad reporting from a right wing newspaper, this year bTB has reduced month on month overall

    |   15
  • mmjames  |  September 23 2013, 12:03PM

    PS Some of us haven't forgotten the "New Life for Animals" slogan of Noo Labour - whose 'I'm in charge' bLiar presided over the cruelest administration ever in 2001... and you Mary Creagh do you intend to do the same using Zoonotic Tuberculosis?

    |   -26
  • mmjames  |  September 23 2013, 11:55AM

    Well done Labour, for the last 20 years of NO policy to combat the relentless spread of a Grade 3 Zoonotic Pathogen, labelled bTuberculosis. You are as much use as a chocolate teapot while in Government!

    |   -29
  • BadgerRob  |  September 23 2013, 10:01AM

    Labour have ben very slow in my opinion, taking advantage of the way the coalition with their NFU and estate owner puppetiers, have seeming disregard for this country's natural fauna and flora. Lets hope they can now step up and not just say they will reverse the madness but explain exactly why Owen Paterson and his regime are so fundamentally wrong. Expose in no uncertain terms how government, NFU and DEFRA have lied and been very selective in answering questions asked of them. They have said that trial culls would target 70% reduction when the true population of badgers in the cull zones remain unknown. So why kill so many animals to apparently test/prove the humaness of the killing method? And why then not test the culled animals for bTB? This strikes me as a complete mess where policy is being best-guessed on the hoof (excuse the pun) because the truth just doesn't pacify the minority of red-neck farmers and NFUwho are destroying what credibility they may of had before and the reputation of those balanced and educated farmers who need science and husbandry to deliver solutions and not guns and stubborn politics.

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