MPs say ‘aye’ to selective badger cull
MPs have backed calls for a limited cull of badgers to help prevent the spread of TB in cattle.
A report by the environment select committee says the action should be focused on TB hotspots and form part of a package of control measures.
The report acknowledges that culling badgers on its own cannot stem the spread of TB in cattle. It calls for better testing and surveillance of cattle to help identify and stamp out the disease.
Farmers groups believe a determined cull of badgers – which are known to spread TB to cattle – would stem the steady rise in cases; but a detailed independent scientific assessment concluded that such an approach would not be worthwhile.
Now MPs on the environment select committee have given their opinion – they have concluded that in certain circumstances culling could help to control the disease.
In their report – Badger and Cattle TB – the committee says it is concerned that disorganised culling could make matters worse.
However, the politicians felt that it could help if it was co-ordinated, covered a large area, was sustained for at least four years and took place in areas that have boundaries which would restrict the movement of badgers.
The RSPCA’s director of animal welfare promotion, John Rolls, said: “The evidence shows a policy of badger culling is unsustainable, uneconomic and could even worsen the spread of bovine TB.”
Hilary Benn is expected to outline the government’s policy on controlling TB in cattle within the next few weeks.
In response to the select committee report, Mr Benn said: “Any potential policy on badger controls would have to take into account whether it could be expected to have a significant impact on the disease, whether it is supported by the available scientific evidence, whether it could practically be delivered, and consideration of public acceptability.”