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Badger cull for Cornwall? MP George Eustice says cull should be rolled out

By WBMiles  |  Posted: November 07, 2013

A badger cull could be rolled out across the UK accoriding to Cornish MP Geroge Eustice.

Comments (17)

A Cornish MP and farming minister has said the badger cull should be rolled out in other areas next year.

George Eustice, MP for Camborne and Redruth and a Defra minister, said the Government was planning to continue and expand the controversial cull.

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

According to Farmers Weekly, Mr Eustice told the NFU tenant farmers’ conference today: “We are minded to go on next year and roll the cull out more widely.”

The MP said the cull carried out this year in West Somerset showed the viability of the scheme.

“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.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  November 11 2013, 9:12PM

    We know from the evidence of the RBCT that effective badger removal (from areas where TB is endemic in the badger species) results in reductions of TB. Some of the culls culled during the winter and some didn't even get access to 70% of the badger population. As such some areas saw more perturbation than others. The perturbation effect is well known and understood. However all proactive cull areas in the RBCT saw reductions in TB. Therefore if they have in fact reduced the badger population by 65% then the evidence from the RBCT indicates that this will almost certainly reduce TB levels. " The average annual rate for the removal of badgers was 1.8 badgers per km² with a variation from 0.7 to 2.91" This "shambles" achieved 3.67 badgers per km² this year. @ barney2, I think everyone would like to have seen infection rates measured. They say cost, but it's likely done for political reasons. What if the level of infection in the badger species was higher than expected? Considering that Defra is about to apply a series of measures in order to pass more costs onto farmers it wouldn't serve them well to release figures on an increase in TB in the badger species, control of which they have momentously cocked up. So either way they can't in political so have ducked out of it altogether.

  • worcspaul  |  November 11 2013, 12:35PM

    "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." What about next year and the year after? Will the intention be to eradicate 70% of the badger population each year? It doesn't take a genius at maths to realise that repeatedly removing such a large percentage of a population over 5 years will bring it to the verge of extinction. For example, imagine a starting population of 2000: After removal of 70% in year 1 that would be reduced to 600 After removal of 70% in year 2 the population would be 180 After year 3 it would be 54 After year 4 it would be 16 and after year 5 there would be 5 badgers left! While the above figures don't allow for interim reproduction, whatever population population is left after each cull has to contend with sickness and mortality (through death on the roads or illegal activity), which could easily cancel out any re-population and even accelerate the extinction

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  • nickthompson  |  November 08 2013, 7:42PM

    Lets see how many green arrows I get when I say a far more beneficial cull should take place in the House of Liars in Westminster!

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  • Glyndwr2013  |  November 07 2013, 11:05PM

    Jake there's no evidence yet that it'll work either. Based on the missed targets and previous culls then at best this'll be an expensive price per head of cattle or at worst will increase TB. Let's hope it's not the disaster for farmers that it's been for badgers.

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  • barney2  |  November 07 2013, 10:59PM

    Jake_Blake Of course they was no evidence Defra made sure of that. They were ask if they would allow an independent organisation examine the carcases at no cost to them, they refused now why would that be ?. They were also asked if they would allow the carcases to be examined for Btb again no. Why would that be ? the information would have been useful but of course they were concerned that the number of infected animals may be low. Of course it was not humane, that was not possible.

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  • dandypeople  |  November 07 2013, 10:52PM

    Jake_Blake - The possible reductions in btb rates were based on the Randomised Badger Culling Trials which also pointed out the dangers of perturbation. Perturbation is when the badgers social group is broken up by badgers being shot, any that remain are likely to leave the sett and try and join up with other badgers elsewhere. Since badgers are fiercely territorial this will probably result in fights and an increased risk of btb spread. Also badgers from outside the cull zone may expand their territories into the space left by the killed badgers, again this could cause the spread of btb. The RBCT said that to keep perturbation to the minimum the cull should be short and sharp. They culled over a short period of up to about 11 days, these pilots were initially over 6 weeks with Somerset extended by a further 3 weeks and Gloucester by a further 8 weeks. The RBCT also only used trap and shoot. They also did not cull in the winter. These pilots are so far removed from the RBCT that any possible benefit implied by the RBCT cannot possibly have any relevance to the current trials. These culls have no precedent and as such there is absolutely no predicting the result. There may be a small reduction after 4 years of culling and a 5 year non culling period after, 9 years in all, or btb rates may shoot up due to perturbation. It is all in the lap of the gods. Not a gamble I would take, especially when vaccination of badgers would definitely reduce btb rates in the badger population within 4 years. Vaccination is the only viable solution to btb in badgers.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  November 07 2013, 10:05PM

    "It's failed in everyway possible" - The cull is about reducing TB and there is no evidence to suggest that this will not be achieved with this cull. The cull itself was carried out safely and should it pass the humaneness test then there is absolutely no reason to not allow further roll out of the cull.

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  • Glyndwr2013  |  November 07 2013, 9:55PM

    Cornish farmers don't need this English folly. Let's hope common sense prevails in 2014.

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  • Clued-Up  |  November 07 2013, 9:47PM

    Sad to see a new minister spouting the dreary discredited nonsense of his predecessor. He had the opportunity to make a new start.

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  • Clued-Up  |  November 07 2013, 9:24PM

    Sad to see a new minister spouting the dreary discredited nonsense of his predecessor. He had the opportunity to make a new start.

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