8 January 2001
MPs ‘will back MAFF badger cull’

By FWi staff

GOVERNMENT trials in which up to 12,500 badgers will be culled are set to be endorsed by a cross-party group of MPs, according to a newspaper report.

The Independent on Sunday claims that the Commons select committee on agriculture will tell MPs this is the best option to stop the spread of bovine TB.

This is despite protests from farmers who complain that the four-year trial is too slow, and protesters who do not accept that badgers pass the disease on to cattle.

The Independent on Sunday says the select committee report will be seen as a reinforcement of the Governments programme.

In December 1997, Professor Sir John Krebs recommended trials in 10 areas where TB in cattle was most prevalent, culling 12,500 badgers.

Up to September last year, 1953 badgers had been culled, the committee was told.

According to the newspaper, the committee will tell MPs this figure suggests that the Krebs figure is unlikely to be exceeded.

Indeed it may be lower, as some animals killed on roads are also being used for the tests.

The select committee is said to support claims that the cull does not risk wiping out badgers in any of the 10 areas, as an estimated 20% will survive.

It said more evidence is needed to prove the link between badgers and bovine TB, and welcomed the Governments 1.4 million programme to produce a cattle vaccine.

The committee found no evidence to back claims that cages used to trap badgers have been raided by those involved in badger-baiting.

The report by the select committee will be published on Wednesday (10 January).