Martin Horwood No way to run a cull
I have previously said that those clamouring for something to be done about bovine tuberculosis "may be disappointed if they think the cull will deliver."
Culling badgers was rejected as a cost-effective solution by the Government's own lengthy and expensive scientific study.
That predicted TB would reduce by only 16 per cent in cull zones, but only if it was done efficiently and enough badgers were killed. That hasn't happened. The Government's estimated badger population in Gloucestershire's cull zone was 3,368. That dropped to 2,350, lowering the 70 per cent cull target to 1,650, but the final tally is apparently only 708. Scientists warned a partial cull could actually make things worse. So now there's a request for the original six-week trial period to be more than doubled.
Environment Secretary Owen Patterson infuriated many by pressing ahead with mass destruction of protected animals, then risked ridicule by joking that the badgers had "moved the goalposts".
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In the meantime, the cost of policing (and disruption to other policing activity) is spiralling. I've tabled Parliamentary questions asking by how much.
During the last year, I also visited the farm of Dave and Gill Purser near Cheltenham, who'd had no TB "reactors" for decades.
Their advice was that, short-term, we should focus on better "biosecurity" on farms not culls.
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has patiently advocated a vaccine-led approach as a long-term solution. It's ironic that the Government is now doing the right thing, both on biosecurity and vaccines, a fact completely obscured by the disastrous cull. How not to do it.
My highlights of last week:
Sunday: Built a bed with son Sam. Not a great political achievement but I it felt like a famous victory, especially after hitting myself in the head with a plank. Stick to day job.
Tuesday: A genuine political victory as we incorporate important changes to dangerous dogs legislation into the Antisocial Behaviour Bill after years of trying. The law will now extend to private property and begin to move from "breed" to "deed" and whether the owner is a "fit and proper person" to own a dog.