LOCAL MP Mike Amesbury is backing constituents who believe badger culling is not the answer to preventing the spread of tuberculosis in cattle.
Culls have taken place in Cheshire since 2017 but the Weaver Vale MP who lives in Frodsham agrees with opponents including Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPCA.
Leaving aside the ethics of killing wild animals, there has been huge disagreement as to the effectiveness of the cull, which takes place in licensed areas across the UK.
Campaigners estimate 140,000 badgers have already been killed and fear another 130,000 badgers could be culled if Government proposals get the green light.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is phasing out intensive culling, with a cattle vaccine to be developed over the next five years and plans to vaccinate more badgers.
But in the meantime, Defra wants to allow badger control licences to be issued until 2022, meaning the badger cull could continue until at least 2026 or even 2028.
Mr Amesbury, who has been contacted by 33 concerned constituents, said: “I recognise the crippling impact of bovine TB on farmers whose cattle herds have been devastated by the disease, many of whom are suffering great economic and emotional hardship as a result.
“I equally recognise the upset and distress that many feel at what they see as unnecessary culling of badgers.
“Many scientists and others consider that the evidence is far from clear-cut that culling badgers is effective as a way of controlling bovine TB.”
The MP added: “The Government said in March 2020 that the current intensive culling policy would begin to be phased out in the next few years, gradually replaced by government-supported badger vaccination and surveillance. This year, it said that the development of a deployable cattle bovine TB vaccine is on track to be completed within the next five years.”
He concluded: “I am calling on the Government to end the cull, alongside strong measures to reduce bovine TB such as improved cattle testing, vaccinating badgers and better controls on the movement of herds.”