Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Dr Elaine King, National Federation of Badger Groups (J19)

  I am writing to provide the Committee with information which has only recently become available and which may be relevant to the evidence session tomorrow morning (15 November).

  The Committee will be aware that a current court case involves the prosecution of four people for criminal damage to a badger trap in January 2000. The case will also be testing the legality of the Government's badger culling trial (see NFBG news release sent to the Committee earlier today [not printed]). The NFBG wishes the Committee to be aware of evidence that was given in the case.

  The NFBG has been informed that one of the witnesses for the prosecution, a MAFF fieldsperson, told the court that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which comprise the methodology for the trial, stipulate that badger traps are not to be set for badgers in the four weeks prior to the closed season (February to April). This means that traps should not be set in January. However, the court case relates to an incident where badgers were being trapped on the 19 January. Badgers were therefore being trapped contrary to the SOP. The NFBG has long asserted that the closed season is too short and it is likely that lactating sows would be killed in January.

  The Committee may wish to ask why badgers were being trapped in January, when the SOP stipulates that no trapping should take place during this month.

  In addition, we have been informed that the fieldsperson admitted that traps are left in situ during the closed season, baited but not set. It was apparently explained that this was in case the field staff were asked to trap badgers during the closed season.

  The Committee may wish to ask whether MAFF has ever authorised the trapping of badgers within the closed season (February to April) as this could have far reaching implications for animal welfare and for the trial's compliance with the Bern Convention.

  Thank you for your consideration of this matter and I apologise again for the information being provided at short notice.

14 November 2000

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