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Government to postpone badger cull

23 October 2012

Conservative backbenchers will be wondering this morning whether they should bother replying to any letters from their constituents about any unpopular government policy. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to announce today that the planned badger cull will be postponed following concerns about its mounting cost.

Defra is insisting that the delay, until next year at the earliest, is not a U-turn. This is accurate: the vehicle hasn’t turned around in the road, it has run out of fuel and ground to a juddering halt. Studies had found that there were perhaps twice as many badgers as originally estimated, and many farmers feared they would not be able to afford to kill 70 per cent of this much larger population.


This will be frustrating for Paterson, who is famed for his personal interest in badgers and TB, having tabled some 600 questions on the matter when in opposition. But it will be still more frustrating for backbenchers whose offices will have spent the past month sending hundreds of letters out to constituents in support of the badger cull. Some made what now appear to be savvy U-turns of their own: Tracey Crouch wrote in her local paper that she had changed her mind to oppose the cull and support vaccination instead, writing ‘I am personally pleased I undertook further consideration of this issue not just for animal welfare reasons, but based on the scientific facts’. She managed to send out letters to some campaigners to that effect, too.

For others, though, this is just the latest in a long line of government policies that they have given their wholehearted support to at a constituency level, only to wonder whether they should have bothered at all.

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  • ButcombeMan

    Just why are Badgers protected. Can anyone explain? We have never been short of badgers. Otters I can understand.

    Just suspend the protection for 18 months and more farmers will do what many do now, (I am told) pump the set, full of slurry, while the young are in there. No guns, not much expense. No “badger burgers ” of course.

  • anyfool

    many farmers feared they would not be able to afford to kill 70 per cent of this much larger population.
    How much does a shotgun cartridge cost these days.
    Why are farmers paying for this, the government passed laws against killing badgers years ago, it is now their responsibility that they are breeding to much therefore causing the problem.

  • emiller7


  • Lorraine Weeks

    Excellent news! The science does not justify or support the cull as my interview with Dr Chris Cheeseman indicates: and my recording of Brian May’s talk shows:
    Lorraine of

    • Mirtha Tidville

      For those who actually know something about them, Badgers are vermin, very destructive and far from cuddly wuddly as some would have us believe. They are in the same class as foxes….

      • Fergus Pickering

        Oh well, if they are vermin then that proves it, doesn’t it? Define vermin, leaving out reference to Tories. Do not forget farmers live on our money. I would not dream of cuddling a badger. But I like them about the place, perhaps more than a lot of farmers I could mention. I remember when birds of prey were vermin. They interfered with the shooting of pheasants.Would you say they still are? Are otters vermin? Think of all the salmon they eat. I think vermin is a silly word, don’t you?

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Couldn’t they hang a few of those antis from those giant bird scramblers they are so keen on?
    Or cut a deal. No badger culls ever in Hampstead and Brighton but allow them north of, say, Luton?
    Very cheap and cost effective.

  • Brock

    Well, that’s the badger vote secured!

    • Fergus Pickering

      You speak true. A lot of votes in badgers.

  • David Trant

    Brian May Rules OK!!

  • Dominic Dyer

    Owen Patterson has dumped this policy early he does not want to end his cabinet career in the same way Caroline Spelman did over the sale of forests. DEFRA officials will now look to kick the cull policy into the long grass in view of the level of opposition from key scientists, wildlife groups and the general public. Lets hope that the NFU leadership will now realise what a mess they made of this issue and be willing to get round the table with wildlife groups to discuss how best to reduce TB in cattle without slaughtering tens of thousands of badgers. We all know the only long term solution is better bio security measures, tighter cattle control movements and a TB vaccine for cattle. Dominic Dyer Care for the Wild International

  • Mirtha Tidville

    If it looks like a u turn, its smells like a u turn then it probably is a u turn……….

  • Tommy Long

    The last thing the Tories need is to be seen slaughtering innocent countryside animals.

    • Robert_Eve


    • james102

      Not if they ever want to win Islington …Has the Ham and High a view on this? Maybe the farming section of the Guardian?

    • Just Bob

      You mean like cows with TB?

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