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Hayle MP George Eustice defends aborted badger cull trial

By CMScott  |  Posted: November 30, 2013

By Scott Hamilton

  • A trial in west Cornwall has seen badgers humanely trapped then vaccinated

  • Volunteers have worked on the vaccination scheme around Penzance

  • George Eustice MP, Farming Minister

Comments (6)

HAYLE MP and Farming Minister George Eustice has defended the Government’s badger cull despite a trial being called off amid jubilation from opponents.

The news will be welcomed in some in west Cornwall where MP Andrew George has backed a trial badger inoculation programme designed both to counter the cull and to save Penwith’s badgers from being subject to it.

The pilot cull in Gloucestershire was designed to prove the theory that shooting badgers would stop TB spreading to valuable cattle in farming areas.

It will now end three weeks early after officials admitted they couldn’t hit targets even after they were significantly reduced.

Culling ended today after contractors told Natural England that a significant reduction in badger numbers by December 18, when shooting was due to end, was "unlikely".

The controversial cull, along with another in Somerset, was initially scheduled to last six weeks and was aimed at reducing local badger populations by 70 per cent.

During that time just 30 per cent of badgers in Gloucestershire were killed, leading to an eight week extension and a lowering of the culling target to 58 per cent.

Five weeks into the extended period, Natural England announced an abrupt end to culling because there is "no realistic prospect of the cull removing the number of badgers required by the licence".

Marksmen have failed to meet their kill targets every night they have been out and on some nights failed to kill a single badger, according to The Guardian.

But Mr Eustice, whose family farm near Hayle, said: “The extension to the cull has been worthwhile and has removed a significant number of badgers which will make a difference to disease control in the area," he said.

"Now that the cull company is seeing fewer badgers on the ground I agree with the decision to stop the pilot cull for this year and I pay tribute to all those who in the face of provocation have worked so hard."

Mark Jones of Humane Society International UK said: "In the face of what has been the dismal failure of this policy, we commend Natural England for making the sensible decision to revoke the cull licence."

David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, said: "The Government should now admit the trials have failed and halt any plans to roll this cull out to other areas.

“It could not be clearer that this trial cull has not worked and it would be complete madness to continue along this misguided path.”

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers Union, said the cull had been carried out safely and humanely despite "intense provocation and intimidation by some anti-cull protesters".

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6 comments

  • barney2  |  December 01 2013, 6:13PM

    Sorry should have said EC not CE.

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  • barney2  |  December 01 2013, 4:22PM

    Farmers were killing badgers before the cull and will continue to kill them now it has finished. I will be surprised if there are enough left for a further cull in these areas next year. Some farmers know that the cull will have little or no effect but see badgers as vermin and want then wiped out, others have had it firmly planted into there brain by Defra and the NFU that badgers are to blame so will also want them wiped out. BTB has reduced by about 8.5% since 2011 probably due to the fact that the CE commission pointed out the lack of hygiene etc on farms and markets forcing Defra to make some changes and will continue to drop helped by the latest changes. They will of course say that the reductions are down to the culls.

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  • okeybrian  |  December 01 2013, 3:50PM

    There may be several reasons why the culling teams have not seen many badgers recently. 1) the number of badgers was overestimaed at the beginning and they have killed most of them. 2) The badgers are staying undeground for longer period, but I would have thought that the Chief Government Vet being a a good scientist and an expert in on badgers would have realised this part of their nature and would not have expected badgers to be out in late November and December! 3) The perturbation effect has already taken place and the badgers have moved onto the surrounding land, - interesting for the farmers in those areas! By the way I was joking about the Chief Vet being a good scientist!

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  • dandypeople  |  December 01 2013, 2:30PM

    Jake_Blake, those figures are immaterial, to compare numbers removed from these areas they would have to have had the same initial density per km2, numbers per km2 are pointless, the only figures worth comparing would be percentages removed per km2. The cull was not designed to 'significantly reduce the badger population' it was designed to cull between 70% and 95% of the badger population which both pilots failed to do. As to not seeing many badgers now that is not due to low numbers but due to badger habits where they stay below ground for longer periods in the winter, also the cage trap license expired on 30th November and they knew from experience that free shooting would not net them enough dead badgers to warrant being out in the cold and rain.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  December 01 2013, 9:18AM

    The cull was designed to significantly reduce the badger population. The cull was stopped early because they couldn't find a significant amount of badgers, which implies that the cull was a success rather than a failure. Will be interesting to see the figures. From the RBCT "the average annual rate for the removal of badgers was 1.8 badgers per km² with a variation from 0.7 to 2.91." Somerset achieved 3.67 badgers per km² this year.

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  • josdave  |  November 30 2013, 11:27PM

    It was always going to be a failure and only the blinkered Eustice could claim and semblance of success. He clearly thinks we are stupid but that will be reflected in the ballot box in 2015.

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