The results of today's Opposition debate - calling on the Government to stop the cull of badgers - were not a surprise as there was a three line whip. MPs voted in favour of a badger cull by 298 votes to 237. In October 2012 in a free vote MPs voted against a badger cull.
Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Democracy does matter. Two votes in Parliament. Two different outcomes.
“All those involved in this debate know that opinion is divided. That is except in the team of scientists who ran the extensive field trials of culling. They are united against it. This the key point. When opinion is divided science becomes all the more vital. Lord Krebs, Prof. Bourne and Prof. Woodroffe have repeatedly stressed there is no new evidence to show that badger culling will make a measurable contribution to tackling bTB and indeed that culling runs the great risk of spreading the disease from disrupted social groups of badgers.
The Wildlife Trusts believe the right answer would have been to listen to these scientists who conducted their trials in England rather than to less relevant experience in other countries.
Stephanie Hilborne added:
“Culling badgers is not the right solution - creating more problems than it solves - and the anticipated £4m policing costs from the first two culls alone would be much better spent on vaccination, biosecurity and improved testing and controls on cattle movement. Yet again in this tragic drama no-one has won and, until real leadership is shown, no-one will. A badger cull is a serious distraction from tackling bovine TB in a strategic and coherent way.”
On the same day as the vote, an influential cross-party group of MPs published a report urging the Government to produce a strategy for use of the badger vaccine. The MPs conclude that ‘an effective programme of badger vaccination in areas where badgers are the suspected source of TB in cattle would be expected to reduce transmission of the disease between the species’. The Committee expressed disappointment that, after three years of the vaccine being available, the Government does not have a strategy for how it will be deployed.