News release: Animal groups hope for cull u-turn in ‘critial’ House of Commons debate Thursday, 13 March


Anti-cull animal groups led by members of Team Badger – including Brian May’s Save Me organisation, IFAW and the League Against Cruel Sports – are hoping to persuade the Government to stand down on its badger cull policy, having secured a backbench debate to be held in the House of Commons this Thursday, 13 March. The groups have the support of St Albans MP Anne Main who has led a cross-party group of MPs who wanted the issue brought back for debate in the main chamber of the Commons.

The debate follows recent revelations from a leaked Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report on the pilot badger culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. The report concluded that the pilot culls were ‘ineffective and failed the humane test’. The Conservative think tank, the Bow Group, has this week published a paper saying that culling badgers is ineffective, costly and unscientific, and recommends vaccination as the only current option.

The group has called on supporters to contact their MPs to ensure they attend the debate and vote in favour of the motion, asking them to look at the scientific evidence and promote a vaccination alternative. The group is supporting the recent launch of the Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative, set up by the Save Me organisation as the way forward in controlling TB in cattle.

This debate is seen as the most important badger debate in Parliament, and critical in the campaign to stop the badger cull, with the possibility that the Government could announce two new cull zones in early April, initiating the national roll-out of the badger cull.

DEFRA Ministers have said they will take a decision on whether to extend the cull after they have reviewed the findings of the IEP (that monitored last year’s pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire).

Findings from the leaked report indicate that the pilots removed less than half of the estimated numbers of badgers over six weeks in both areas. It also found that the number of culled badgers that took longer than five minutes to die exceeded the five per cent limit set as a measure of humaneness, according to the BBC.

The badger cull has twice been debated in main chamber of the House of Commons over the past 18 months, with the Government losing the vote in Autumn 2012 but winning last June only after David Cameron introduced a three-line whip.

Mrs Main, who has received cross-party support for Early Day Motions opposing the policy, said: “I am asking the Government to pause, reflect and adapt its policy for tackling Bovine TB.

“The pilot culls have failed on all of the Government¹s own criteria, including humaneness.

“I do not believe the Government should allow more licences to be granted until Members have considered, debated, and voted on the motion before the House.”

Brian May, founder of Save Me and Team Badger said: “Now that the failure of this whole badger cull shambles can be seen so clearly seen it must be time to abandon the concept, and get on with the only strategy which can ultimately succeed in eradication of bovine TB – vaccination of badgers and other wildlife, and prioritisation of work to license the vaccine for cattle.

“Under pressure from the NFU, the Government has wasted a huge amount of public money on this misguided cull. It is time for them to admit the failure of this policy and adopt a more effective and humane approach to help farmers, rather than adding to their woes.”