Badger cull protestors welcome Paterson’s departure

Wildlife groups opposed to the badger cull are celebrating Owen Paterson’s removal from the cabinet, calling his term as environment secretary a “catastrophe”.

Care for the Wild said Paterson, who has been replaced by Liz Truss, was the central defender of the “disastrous badger culling policy”, and that many consequently now refer to Defra as “Deathra”.

Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: “Apparently it seems that the man who claimed that badgers had moved the goalposts has scored one too many own goals and has been hauled off the pitch.

“Owen Paterson has strong links to the Countryside Alliance and land-owning and hunting interests, and he stubbornly threw himself behind the badger culling policy in the face of overwhelming, expert scientific opinion that said a cull would make no meaningful contribution to reducing bTB. So now his lasting legacy will be the badger cull, which has been an utter failure on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.”

There was much criticism of the culls, and the Independent Expert Panel employed to assess the culls’ progress reported concerns over their humaneness and efficacy. Paterson decided earlier in the year that the scheme would not be taken nationwide as yet, but the cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire would still be continued.

In the wake of Paterson’s removal, The Badger Trust has now called for the government to stop the culls. Dyer added: “Mr Paterson’s leadership has caused lasting damage to the reputation of Defra, Natural England and the farming industry, and the new Defra secretary of state cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of their predecessor. They must start by bringing an immediate halt to the disastrous badger cull and reaching out to wildlife protection and conservation groups to restore confidence in the reputation of Defra for protecting – not destroying – wildlife.
 
“And it’s time for David Cameron to recognise that the compassionate British people care deeply about wildlife and will stand up to protect it. He would be wise to listen to their concerns or risk paying a heavy price at the next election.”

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