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Badger cull in question as ministers "deliberately restricting" independent report

By GDemianyk  |  Posted: January 10, 2014

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The Government has been accused of being "underhand" after ministers admitted an independent audit of the South West badger culls will be limited to their first six weeks.

Farming Minister George Eustice conceded the so-called Independent Expert Panel's remit will not include looking at the extra three weeks of culling in Somerset, and further five weeks in Gloucestershire, which are part of the policy to tackle tuberculosis in cows.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP who posed the question in the House of Commons, said: "The Government knows that its inhumane policy has no basis in scientific evidence, but is determined to carry on regardless.   

"Curtailing independent scrutiny of the cull is an underhand move to push for longer culls.

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"It is deliberately restricting the remit of the expert panel as a get-out to justify the failure of the culls.  If the panel concludes that culling was not effective, Defra can argue that longer culls are necessary in future. 

"It is incredibly disingenous of the Government to seek a get-out to justify pressing ahead with a policy that has been a spectacular failure."

The Independent Expert Panel will advise ministers on whether to extend culling to other areas.

The two "pilots" will be assessed on whether they were safe, humane and effective, and could be rolled out to up to 40 areas to tackle the disease rife in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Both the Somerset and Gloucestershire culls were extended beyond their initial six-week allotted period after marksmen failed to shoot dead 70% of the local badger population. The target is significant as falling short risks spreading the disease further.

During Defra Questions today, the MP for Brighton Pavilion asked: "The remit of the Independent Expert Panel was originally restricted to the planned six-week badger cull period and my understanding is that that remit was not extended when the badger culls were themselves extended. 

"Can the Secretary of State reassure the House today that the Independent Expert Panel's scope and report will cover the whole of the culling period and not just the first six weeks, because it is really important that his decisions are informed by wider experience of the whole cull?"

Mr Eustice replied: "The Independent Expert Panel will cover the initial cull period, not the extensions."

In Gloucestershire, only 40% of the local badger population was shot dead by trained marksmen. The Somerset cull was marginally more successful, getting closer at 65%.

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

The disease, said to be spread by badgers, 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.

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20 comments

  • Ludmilla  |  January 25 2014, 6:10PM

    The regime is pro hunt, pro cull and anti environment , Owen Paterson an absolute gift to the pro hunt lobby wrapped up in a smart suit, but interested in hunting and GM, despite damage this could do to farming. Another decade or so of unbelievably inhuman tests on animals to try to prove it is 'safe' until it gets rolled out to the public ? Without thought for their health, just profit. Look at the society they keep http://tinyurl.com/ngj77gk http://tinyurl.com/cf63396 perverting the course of Justice, hacking young teenage murder victim's phone, an old hunt pal of Cameron's , how quaint. Selling off the NHS http://tinyurl.com/c99mesp , same fracking companies proposed although being banned in France by bribing councils – Also check out 38 Degrees revelations about the Gagging Law , guess which party is agreement heavy with it?

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  • animaladvocat  |  January 12 2014, 6:21PM

    Such transparency! Makes you proud to be British! Paterson knows that any scrutiny will show the futility and lies that this massacre was!

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  • simonrtucker  |  January 11 2014, 4:07PM

    lovelylizzy - I think that anybody who says that any scientific facts are indisputable is not a scientist and doesn't understand it. I am a militant atheist and staunch advocate of evolution through natural selection in the struggle for existence but if somebody showed a new species arriving from nowhere, i.e. spontaneous generation, I would change my world view. Unfortunately the pro-cull posters on here are not scientists, otherwise they wouldn't keep posting discredited hypotheses and calling them "indisputable, historically scientific facts". I would suggest that they read Popper's "Die Logik Der Forschung" (The Logic of Scientific Discovery) but it is almost certainly too advanced a text for them (yes I have read it - not in the original German).

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  • lovelylizzy  |  January 11 2014, 10:21AM

    *hear* my bad.

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  • lovelylizzy  |  January 11 2014, 10:19AM

    Can we all agree that if we here the words 'The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts.' again we just ignore it? That must be the most used ( and boring) sentence in the whole of this debate. It really is quite tiresome.

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  • simonrtucker  |  January 10 2014, 7:30PM

    For anybody interested in the debunking of the spoligotype nonsense being spouted, please go and read the blog and then the debunking of it. As so often, the original data is a long way out of date and discredited. As they say, a little learning is a dangerous thing, and when you couple that with the sheer unpleasantness and arrogance displayed by the leading cull advocate it leads to a lot of misinformation and propaganda. http://tinyurl.com/q5hvcwt

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  • Atomic1964  |  January 10 2014, 6:55PM

    @Charlespk. It doesn't matter how many times you try and peddle it, a YouTube video published by the Association of Hunting & Shooting Vets (non of whom are scientists) does not constitute "scientific facts".

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  • dandypeople  |  January 10 2014, 6:49PM

    Give it a rest Charlespk, we are bored with your cut and paste comments, we've read them all before more times that we care to remember. The cull was not and never will be based on science or humaneness, it is just a slaughter fest. Bears and Wolves are already extinct so the next on the list of scary predators is the badger and whatever lies need to be told to convince the public are being told. The public are no longer buying it. We know that a small number of badgers were tested for btb at the landowners request, Defra refuse to release the results. What have they got to hide? If these badgers were proved to be riddled with btb I am sure that Defra would be shouting it from the rooftops, but they're not so we have to assume that they were negative. So how many perfectly healthy badgers have been culled? Most of them or maybe all of them. Time to stop this badger cull farce now.

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  • Charlespk  |  January 10 2014, 8:33AM

    M.bovis is spread insidiously by badgers and 'Clonal Expansion' , and has been proven by spoligotype and VNTR profiling. (Variable Number Tandem Repeat) a location in a genome where a short nucleotide sequence is organized as a tandem repeat. If bTB were mostly spread by cow to cow contact, you'd expect the geographical pattern of spoligotypes to be an ever-changing mosaic, and with the extremely aggressive culling of infected cows that has long been done, you'd expect one or two spoligotypes of bTB to have gone extinct from chance alone. If on the other hand bTB in cows was mostly caused by spread from a fairly static reservoir host to cows, then you'd expect the geographical pattern of spoligotypes to stay constant. The latter pattern is what is seen. . Badgers are the major reservoir host of bTB, and it is only by aggressively culling badgers everywhere to limit their spread, and by focal culling to local extinction if necessary in bTB hotspot areas that this disease is going to be brought under control again. Subsequent to bTB being brought under control, there needs to be an ongoing low-level cull of badgers to keep their numbers down, since a high badger population is always going to pose a threat of bTB epidemic. . . . Badgers and bovine TB. This is the REAL science. The INDISPUTABLE, historically accurate, scientific facts. http://tinyurl.com/bw7jpxy (open in a new window)

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  • Ludmilla  |  January 10 2014, 1:04AM

    Despite the fact that Natural England experts voiced their concern over the extension it went ahead, the typical response that has been the hallmark of this cull from beginning to end http://tinyurl.com/ol6uff5" target="_blank">http://tinyurl.com/ol6uff5 . The fact that the pilot cull has not been made available for public and scientific consultation in a satisfactory way, and indeed NFU chiefs are calling for an entirely different manner of culling http://tinyurl.com/ol6uff5" target="_blank">http://tinyurl.com/ol6uff5 and Peter Kendall almost sees this as a bounty for badgers http://tinyurl.com/pmgmhfv which is unpalatable for many, almost like some sort of wildlife dispatch competition of times past. The farmers who oppose this are rarely heard , and in some cases dare not rise above the parapet? This has cost the taxpayers millions and is another symbol of the close links between the Environment Secretary and the Countryside lobbyists http://tinyurl.com/o5pkron . When vaccination of badgers is already taking place, and many less badgers than the pro cull claim are 'diseased' also persecution of badgers is on rise why not allow further vaccination programmes to be subsidized instead of yet more wildlife slaughter? http://tinyurl.com/laxq4xr

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