Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th September 2018.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many times a monitor from Natural England is required to visit a proposed badger culling site to assess whether the weather conditions are suitable for a cull.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra’s guidance to Natural England states that Natural England should monitor compliance with licence conditions, and that a risk based approach is adopted for site visits. Best practice guidance on cage trapping used by contractors states that traps should be positioned to take advantage of any natural cover available to give trapped animals shelter from the elements, including exposure to wind/rain and overheating from the sun. Operators have a legal responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 not to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal under the control of man – this includes a wild animal held in a trap.

Weather conditions will vary locally within cull areas. The correct placement and checking of traps by operators will mitigate any risks at individual sites. If mitigation measures are unlikely to be effective, then trapping will cease at particular sites until weather conditions change.

Natural England has written to everyone authorised to trap badgers to say they should cease trapping if there is a risk trapped badgers could suffer in the hot weather. Natural England also brought forward the time by which trapped badgers should be culled or vaccinated from midday to 8am – or within 3 hours of dawn – so that badgers are not in traps at the hottest time of day.

Defra’s guidance to Natural England can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-natural-england-preventing-spread-of-bovine-tb.

Best practice guidance on cage trapping can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cage-trapping-and-dispatch-of-badgers-under-licence-to-prevent-the-spread-of-bovine-tb-in-cattle.

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