Parliamentary committee report slams Government’s performance on controversial badger culls

Parliamentary committee report slams Government’s performance on controversial b
Tuesday, 10 February, 2015
London, UK

A parliamentary committee report published today (Tuesday) is damning in its criticism of the Government’s handling of the controversial badger culls.

The report by EFRA*, known as the 8th Report, asks the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) why the second year of the badger culling pilots in Gloucestershire failed to meet licence conditions for the number of badgers killed.

It recommends that DEFRA clarifies whether it intends to continue culling in Gloucestershire from 2015 onwards and, if so, what changes will be made to ensure its effectiveness in line with recommendations of the Chief Veterinary Officer.

The Government is also urged to ‘continue to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the badger culling pilots’ and DEFRA is urged to publish its own timetable for the development and use of a cattle vaccine.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has always strongly opposed the pilot culls on the grounds that they are both cruel and ineffective.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, added: “From the very outset we have known that the culls were destined to fail. Not only were they based on bad science, the way the cull policy was designed and handled has been disastrous throughout. We welcome the EFRA report which calls for a better explanation of what went wrong in the second year of culling, and more importantly, what steps the Government plans to make should it attempt to continue this unjust cull.”

Mansbridge added: “It was also refreshing to hear from the EFRA Committee the call to push for, and keep the public informed about, the progress of developing a cattle vaccine to combat bTB, the real solution to this problem.”

On other issues, the report also noted that, despite recognition that Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) are extremely important, progress towards fulfilling the requirements of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and forming a network of marine protected areas has been ‘slow since the 127 sites were first recommended to the Government in 2011’.

EFRA recommends that the Department implements a ‘more ambitious programme’ for MCZs.

* The EFRA Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of DEFRA and its associated public bodies. It is one of the 19 Select Committees related to Government departments and chooses its own subjects of inquiry.

Ends

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling at IFAW on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email csterling@ifaw.org.

Notes to Editors –

IFAW urges the UK Government to do all it can to ensure that the EU will authorise the cattle vaccine as quickly as possible (a vaccine has already been developed, together with a test to differentiate between vaccinated cattle and infected cattle).

Wales, which chose vaccinating badgers over culling them, is already demonstrating that this alternative works with real improvements in cutting the frequency of outbreaks.

The Independent Expert Panel said the cull was inhumane and ineffective. The criterion the Government uses to conclude that a method of killing is humane is if less than 5% of the badgers take more than five minutes to die. In the first year of the pilot the percentage was between 6.4% and 18%.

When the news of the number of badgers killed was announced around Christmas last year DEFRA stated that ‘the results for Gloucestershire reflect the challenges of extensive unlawful protest and intimidation’, but the police had not found this to be the case.

There is evidence of badgers having been killed inhumanely during the second year of the pilot cull, such as the case of ‘badger 41’, on which an autopsy was carried out.

Modelling produced by researchers at Queen Mary University of London found that there are far better and cheaper solutions than badger culling to tackle bTB.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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