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Owen Paterson – I've had death threats over badger cull

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 26, 2013

Local MP Neil Parish looks on as Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson addresses the NFU meeting at Tiverton Picture: Richard Austin

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Environment Secretary Owen Paterson revealed he has had more death threats since he took office last year than he ever had when he was Northern Ireland Secretary.

The reason was the proposed pilot cull of badgers in two areas of the South West, now scheduled to take place in June as part of the Government's campaign against the spread of bovine tuberculosis, Mr Paterson told an audience of 80 farmers from across the South West region.

"There is a large element of public opinion which is completely against any sort of cull," he said.

But Mr Paterson, who was speaking in Tiverton, was adamant that the six-week trial culls in West Somerset and around the Tewkesbury area would go ahead this year, having been postponed last autumn.

Mr Paterson, who said he had once had a pet badger, said it was vital to "bear down" on TB in both cattle and wildlife. He had seen campaigns work successfully to stamp out bovine TB, by culling possums in New Zealand and White Tailed deer in Michigan – where there had been very considerable public opposition. And in Donegal in Ireland there had been a 96% reduction in TB following a vigorous campaign with badgers.

He was not a "nasty brutish Government Minister culling badgers" he stressed. "But we are heading for a bill of £1 billion for bovine TB, and we are idiots to pay for it when you look at Ireland and see what can be done. We simply cannot allow this disease to run rampant and destroy our cattle industry."

In 2011 a total of 26,000 cattle were destroyed because of TB, he stressed.

Answering questions, Mr Paterson pledged to investigate the situation where alpacas, which can catch and pass on the disease, were not subject to movement restrictions – and he pointed out that badger welfare should be stressed to members of the public concerned about the culls.

Mr Paterson said he was also very concerned about the spread of Schmallenberg Virus, carried by midges, which causes pregnant ewes and cows to abort their young or, in the case of sheep, to give birth to malformed lambs.

Only that morning he had heard "very depressing news" about its effects on cattle, but the Government was working hard with other nations to combat the virus, he said.

In a wide-ranging speech Mr Paterson focused on current moves to update the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, insisting it was the Government's wish to reduce red tape and the burden of unnecessary legislation on farmers.

He had a tranche of objectives, he said; to grow the rural economy, and in particular to help do so by upgrading broadband coverage, to improve flood defences, to boost agricultural exports, where the UK had been left behind by other EU countries, and to improve the rural environment.

The meeting, organised by the National Farmers' Union, saw delegates attend from Cornwall to Gloucestershire. Mr Paterson had earlier met farmers at nearby Holbeton, hosted by Steve Dribble.

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  • Charlespk  |  February 03 2013, 9:20PM

    That governments have allowed badgerists to perpetuate their myths and very basic non-understanding of this disease is the reason this problem has been allowed to escalate to the level it now is. . The Labour Party is primarily at fault for this escalation and delay in dealing with it, but all politicians must accept their share of blame. Badgers have proven themselves to be a perfect self-maintaining vector of this disease with a a lifestyle that makes them a perfect breeding ground to incubate the insidious, perpetual clonal expansion of these very slow growing bacteria that are extremely difficult to prevent growing, let alone kill once they find a host. . This is the reason 'reactors' always have to be slaughtered and now badgers also have to have their numbers severely reduced in the hope that we can we can achieve a healthy badger population once again. Spoligotyping, VNTR profiling and Mapping now proves conclusively that badgers are the primary vectors of any outbreak wherever it occurs. . Not wanting any culling of badgers is purely an emotional response to an unfortunate, but now extremely necessary course of action to safeguard all other mammals. (especially humans

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  • Charlespk  |  February 02 2013, 7:24AM

    All the AR activists have become increasingly desperate in their attempt to prevent the cull of badgers, the more their total ignorance of the epidemiology of the whole Mycobacterium tuberculosis genus of bacteria is exposed. . What some of the most extreme animal rights activists tend to share are an implacable self-righteousness and misanthropy. . Advocates of "good causes" all too often confuse the justice of their cause with their own moral worth. Since they support a holy cause they are sanctified by it and brook no criticism. When that sort of self-righteousness peaks in an extreme animus, other moral considerations go out of the window. Supporting animal rights for instance can legitimise violence against human beings in such people's minds.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  January 29 2013, 8:27PM

    So you do admit that your actions will lead to further badger perturbation. That's further badger suffering and death on your hands. I hope you've let people know this. That your plan will not 'save' badgers but, will cause further suffering. They've never mentioned this at any of the meetings. And your basis of justification for this is because of ALLEDGED illegal activities. I find the argument interesting when it comes to road kill badgers. Badgers aren't some magical creature, when hit by the high speed vehicles that drive on the road they (as most often is the case) will come to the same fate as all the other millions of animals that lie on the roads.

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  • EJANDODIN  |  January 28 2013, 4:16PM

    Reservoir of infection in 'TB - free' herds: http://tinyurl.com/a4q8qje

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  • EJANDODIN  |  January 28 2013, 3:51PM

    Farmers who take the law into their own hands by killing badgers and dumping them at the roadside are causing peturbation so I doubt if protesters would cause as much peturbation as farmers already have.

  • Jake_Blake  |  January 28 2013, 2:53PM

    "If thousands mobilise and take to the fields when the time comes, then the cull will be stopped." Why would you advocate disruptive and illegal activities in order to increase perturbation? One of the most important lessons learnt from the REACTIVE cull in the RBCT was that abandoned/ partial culling is a certain recipe to perturbation. It's the reason why farmers have to make a 4 year commitment in this. Even if you were to succeed in what you threat you would only succeed in making the problem even worse in badgers. Can you please explain to me the logic behind this one?

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  • stevepz  |  January 28 2013, 12:38PM

    These groups are always threatening to kill people and burn their children alive. It's all a load of rubbish. I don't think we will be finding Mr Paterson lying in the street shot execution style over the badger cull issue, any time soon.

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  • debvegandeb  |  January 28 2013, 11:53AM

    salmonella, swine flu, foot and mouth, equine encephalomyelitis,hemmerhagic septicaemia,newcastles decease,warts,pneumonia,tetanus, anthrax,blackleg,foot rot, calf diphtheria,atrophic rhinitis, botulism, peritonitis, i could go on and rotting gizzard, is ripe and vets dont know what to do, WHEN YOU PLAY AGAINST NATURE WHAT DO YOU EXPECT, never mind human earth related problems, obesity, cancers, food stocks, water resources, global warming, WE HAVE A LOT TO ANSWER FOR DON'T WE,

  • debvegandeb  |  January 28 2013, 11:22AM

    there is two good reasons alone just on this story, if we all ate a plant based diet, then disease would end, food scarcity in other countries would end, health would improve, ALL BECAUSE THE MAN LOVES A STEAK AND BABY MILK, there are other diseases we have not made open to the public yet but soon it will come out, to much shame to the industries who will do any thing and say anything to protect their profits, THE CHAIRMAN OF NFU, ON NATIONAL BBC NEWS SAID THE OTHER DAY HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW MANY CALFS ARE KILLED IN THIS COUNTRY, all he had to do was look up the governments statistics, what does that say about whats going on, they bang on about the red tractor yet every time someone has gone undercover in the red tractor farms, has seen dirt, extreme animal cruelty disease, , MESSAGE TO ALL YOU THAT MAKE MONEY FROM THIS FARMING "PRACTICE", YOUR TIME IS COMING TO AN END, NO MORE WILL YOU GET AWAY WITH THE LIES YOU TELL, animals and humans deserve better then having to listen to more of the NFU and defra lies,

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  • EJANDODIN  |  January 28 2013, 9:50AM

    "Landowners and farmers in Glos continue to show interest in Badger Vaccination Another farmer signed up with us this morning! Will you?"

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