I know that many local people shared my concern at the Government’s decision to licence two pilot badger culls last year in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
I oppose badger culling as I do not believe it is the most effective, appropriate or humane method of controlling bovine TB. I also fear it will be bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife. Crucially, as a previous 10-year scientific trial showed, culling will not work to achieve a lasting reduction in bovine TB and it actually risks making things worse, particularly for farmers in neighbouring areas.
It is now clear that the two pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire have been a catastrophic, expensive failure. The pilots failed to achieve the Government's own target of killing 70% of badgers in the culling area - despite both pilots being extended - and an independent report has concluded that the culls were ineffective and inhumane.
That is why I supported a motion in the House of Commons on 13th March that called on the Government to stop these culls, to not grant any further culling licences and to develop alternative strategies to eradicate the scourge of bovine TB.
I am pleased that the House of Commons backed this motion by the overwhelming majority of 219-1, which sent clear message to the Government to drop this ineffective, expensive and inhumane
The Government have now announced that the badger culls will not roll out into 10 new areas as threatened. While I am saddened that the culls will continue in Somerset and Gloucestershire, I believe that this marks a significant shift in the Government’s approach to the badger cull.
I continue to believe these culls are bad for farmers, bad for the taxpayer and bad for wildlife and that the Government should work with farmers, wildlife groups and scientists to develop an alternative including vaccination.
-- Mike Gapes