Derbyshire wildlife organisations speak out as badger cull gets MP backing

Badger emerges from its sett in a Forestry Commission wood in North Yorkshire.
Badger emerges from its sett in a Forestry Commission wood in North Yorkshire.
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Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and local badger groups have expressed their dismay after MPs voted to support pilot culls of badgers.

Yesterday MPs took part in an Opposition Day debate on the Government’s policy of trial badger culls, scheduled to take place in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset. The trials are testing an untried method of shooting free-running badgers in an attempt to find a solution to the problem of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle.

MPs voted 298 to 237 in favour of continuing the culls. Derbyshire MPs Nigel Mills, Patrick McLouglin, Jessica Lee, Andrew Bingham, Pauline Latham and Heather Wheeler voted in favour of the cull while Margaret Beckett, Dennis Skinner, Chris Williamson, Toby Perkins and Natascha Engel voted against it.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Conservation Manager Tim Birch said:”We are extremely disappointed that MPs have voted to support the cull. The science is perfectly clear that a cull will not solve the problem of bovine TB. With the huge cost of policing the cull it is also clear that shooting badgers will be more expensive than vaccinating them.”

Irene Brierton, Chair of the Mid Derbyshire Badger Group added: “We urge the Government to rethink its misguided policy of culling badgers and instead move rapidly to a vaccination programme, combined with increased biosecurity measures on farms and tougher restrictions on cattle movements across the country. Transmission among cattle is the greatest problem, killing badgers is a damaging diversion. We all need to work together to stop badgers becoming the scapegoats for this costly disease.”

A ten-year pilot badger culling programme took place in England between 1997 and 2007. This was led by Lord Krebs who concluded that culling badgers was ‘not an effective way of controlling the disease.”

This week Derbyshire Wildlife Trust launched an appeal for a five-year badger vaccination programme in the county. If you would like to donate to this appeal please visit www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgers. For more information on local badger groups visit www.badgertrust.org.uk