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The great badger debate

Today, MPs will debate ending the cull that resulted in 10,886 badger deaths in 2016 alone.

The debate comes in response to a petition launched by naturalist and broadcaster Simon King, which reached 108,319 signatures. The badger culls across England are part of a government strategy to eradicate bovine tuberculosis, and are planned to continue into 2017.

Before the debate, protesters gathered in Westminster to voice their concerns. Flanked by placards reading ‘Save our badgers’ and ‘Not guilty,’ demonstrators gathered to hear experts speak, and lay out the reasons for ending the cull.

Badger Trust, a group promoting the conservation, welfare and protection of badgers, organised the demonstration.

The group’s CEO, Dominic Dyer, said: “I hope the debate will give MPs the chance to reflect on the huge failures of the policy to date.”

The issue has been debated in parliament before, but the latest Defra figures add new material to discuss.

Dominic Dyer said that England should learn lessons from the Welsh response to bovine TB, where culling does not take place.

He said: “We are losing species and habitats at an alarming rate in the UK, we must learn to manage our natural resources better and farm in harmony with nature rather than destroy wildlife for short term political and economic interests.”

Ahead of the debate, he sent a copy of his book Badgered to Death to every MP, along with a letter which he cosigned with Chris Packham.

The postage costs were crowdfunded in five days. With the public not only raising their voices, but also contributing financially, Dominic Dyer said interest in the topic has been generated in Westminster: “I trust some MPs will bring the book into the Westminster Hall debate on Monday and raise issues from it during the debate.”

In response to the petition, which reached 108,319 signatures, the government said that the culls in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset have proven to be “safe, humane and effective in reducing the number of badgers needed to bring down disease levels in cattle.”

Ahead of the debate and its corresponding demonstration, Dominic Dyer said: “The fate of the badger has become a lightning rod issue about the future of all our native wildlife and the landscapes they inhabit.”

Hear more from Dominic Dyer.

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