BADGER culls are not working and effective measures must be put in place to protect farmers’ livelihoods, a senior MP said on her visit to Gloucestershire.
Labour’s Maria Eagle, shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, said the number of animals killed across the county fell short of pilot targets which she says proves culling is ineffective in tackling bovine TB.
The cull in Gloucestershire ended three weeks early after marksmen failed to even meet reduced targets brought in midway through the pilot.
Mrs Eagle, during her visit to the county yesterday, said: “It seems very clear the culls have not been a success.
“An independent expert panel said they did not manage to cull requisite numbers of badgers, so it was ineffective because of that.
“And it has been inhumane. About 23 per cent suffered needlessly by being alive for more than five minutes after they have been shot.
“But bovine TB needs to be cracked down on as it destroys farmers’ livelihoods and their herds which costs the Government a lot in compensation. We shouldn’t be pursuing ineffective policies; we must do something that works.”
The controversial cull ended in December. It was initially scheduled to last six weeks, aimed at reducing badger populations by 70 per cent to reduce the spread of tuberculosis to cattle.
During that period 30 per cent of badgers were killed, leading to an eight-week extension and a lowering of the target to 58 per cent.
Mrs Eagle also met Hands Off Our Forest campaigners at Beechenhurst.
Concerned that future Governments will pursue plans to sell off public forests, HOOF’s aims are to secure a guaranteed £22million from the Treasury each year for the English forests and to follow in full the independent panel for forestry’s recommendation of a board of ‘guardians’ with its members balanced between community, conservation and business representatives.
HOOF spokesman Rich Daniels said at the moment, the guardians “lack teeth” as they do not have statutory powers to make policy changes over the way the forests are managed.