A parliamentary debate on the proposed cull of wild badgers has polarised the conflicting opinions of farming advocates and wildlife groups in Norfolk.

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The cull, aimed at stopping the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) among cattle, was postponed earlier this week by environment secretary Owen Paterson after it emerged that more animals would be shot than first anticipated.

But last night, MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion which called on the government to abandon the controversial plans completely.

Following the debate, supporters of the cull including Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman stepped up their claims that allowing too many badgers to roam the countryside will jeopardise the country’s dairy industry.

But animal campaigners, including the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, have urged ministers to acknowledge public and parliamentary opinions by permanently scrapping the cull in favour of a vaccination programme, improved testing and better biosecurity.

Mr Freeman, who is also chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on science and technology in agriculture said: “No-one wants to cull badgers. I entirely understand and sympathise with people’s concerns, but this horrific disease is spreading fast and has to be tackled to prevent further suffering.

“Many farmers have been driven to despair after approximately 26,000 cattle were slaughtered for TB control in England last year and the total cost of the disease set to rise to over £1bn. To prevent this disease decimating our farming industry and causing further suffering, we must act.”

“Sadly, as of yet there is no workable, oral badger vaccine and there may not be for several years. A test to differentiate between infected and vaccinated cattle, currently underway, will also take some years until release.”

Bovine TB is most prevalent in southwest England and Wales, and the pilot culling schemes were planned for Gloucestershire and Somerset.

In Norfolk, the county’s wildlife trust has joined its national parent organisation in opposing the cull.

Paul Wilkinson, head of living landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Scientists oppose the cull, the public opposes the cull and now MPs have voted against a cull.

“It is time for the government to listen and use the available alternatives to tackle bTB. A badger vaccine is available now and improved biosecurity measures can help to reduce the spread of the disease. In the longer term a cattle vaccine can play a very real part in helping deal with the problem and the government should now be putting the effort into ensuring this vaccine can be deployed as soon as possible.”

11 comments

  • It would appear that a good proportion of the population are like myself horrified by these proposals, well the answer is simple my friends do like what my wife and myself have done and give up dairy products. I am sure that if enough people did this or even threatened to do it, it would have the desired effect.

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    John L Norton

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • Jackslipper, the badger population has got far too high just like grey squirrels something needs to be done. Unfortunately oral drugs and contraceptives are not easily administered to wild animals. If there is a solution of this type then the scientists need to find it and quickly! If you’re suggesting that people would take pleasure out of shooting badgers then you’re wrong. It’s going to take long boring and cold hours in the middle of the night to cull them but until we have an alternative then what can we do? The march of the badger to the detriment of everything else in the countryside is wrong. If they looked like rats then people wouldn’t care and that is pure hypocrisy.

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    baguio

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • If someone takes their commercial animals into a native animals habitat, and there is a possibility those commercial animals contract a disease from that wildlife, sorry, but that's your own fault, especially if you then decide to keep your animals there. That isn't the badgers fault, that's yours, and the badger should not pay the price by being killed, you move your animals instead, at the rate farming is going we'll be lucky if we don't just end up with commercial animals only, that would be disgusting, we've got it wrong so far in the UK, time for a change, some intelligence. And those same people do take it into their own hands and persecute those animals, badgers, foxes, when they should look no further than themselves, they are the problem, not the animals they persecute.

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    Jason Bunn

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • Hmm...Maybe it's the cattle giving TB to the Badgers? Just a thought!

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    City Boy

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • baguio - Clearly some people who are commenting on here know nothing about the country side and it’s problems Here we go again - so the only people who know about the countryside are those that want to shoot badgers, and those who want to have packs of hounds tearing foxes to pieces? There are plenty of people who know far more about the countryside than most of that lot who oppose both the cull and fox hunting!

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    Jackdslipper

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • "Sadly, as of yet there is no workable, oral badger vaccine". "A badger vaccine is available now and improved biosecurity measures can help to reduce the spread of the disease." Well is there a vacine available for Badgers? Is one available for cattle? The fact that most of the experts on Badgers oppose the cull leads me to conclude there is a vacine available and the cull is based on panic poor grasp of detail and hazy facts at best. Now it has been seen as just that and the cull should be dropped once and for all. It has only minimal support and is yet another Government miscalculation

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    Jackdslipper

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • Too right, leave the Badgers alone,if by now we cannot manage to protect cows from TB by vet,methods it's the scientists who should be culled.

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    Jack

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • Well said jason i agree all our native wildlife pays a high price just so stupid cows can live Didn't we have a problem from rabies in foxes 20 or 30 years back ? and they sorted that out. When people start spreading serious diseases do they cull us ? No they dont enough said.

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    scorch382

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • It's an omnivoreshambles.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • John L Norton, please explain why you're horrified that badgers should be culled and yet you think that there should be a big cull on deer '12th October comment on here'. They can both spread TB! You're the biggest hypocrite of them all. Make up your mind please.

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    baguio

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • The badger population is way out of control now and it's not just the farmers that are suffering. Ground nesting birds as well as hedgehogs amongst other things are being decimated by these things. The whole countryside ECO system is being damaged by badgers that have no natural predators. Their numbers have to be controlled. It’s not just dairy farmers that are losing animals either. All cloven hoofed animal can catch it. The TB is passed by breath and cannot lay dormant so it is not the cows giving it to each other until they contract it from the badger that is roaming free and spreading the virus. Clearly some people who are commenting on here know nothing about the country side and it’s problems. Bury your heads in the sand all you like but this problem is only going to get worse not better unless trained marksmen sort out the problem.

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    baguio

    Friday, October 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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