Owen Paterson On Badger Cull: 'I'm Not Moving The Goalposts, The Badgers Are Moving The Goalposts'

'I'm Not Moving The Goalposts, The Badgers Are Moving The Goalposts'

The badgers are conspiring against us, according to one government minster.

Environmental secretary Owen Paterson has said that "badgers have moved the goalposts," whilst arguing that the controversial cull has been a success.

Much to the fury of animal rights campaigners, Paterson today announced the cull may be extended by up to three weeks in an effort to make up a massive shortfall following the completion of a six-week period of the Somerset TB control pilot cull.

But experts have warned that dragging out the killing gives more opportunity for badgers to flee the gunmen and could increase TB infections, rather than reduce them.

Paterson was asked on BBC Spotlight if he had "moved the goalposts" by claiming the cull was a success.

"The badgers moved the goalposts. We're dealing with a wild animal, subject to the vagaries of the weather and disease and breeding patterns," he claimed.

The comments have, unsurprisingly, raised a few eyebrows.

The comments have even prompted a "Owen Paterson's Badger Penalty Shootout Game," where players can help the Environmental Secretary beat the pesky badgers.

Paterson said that "current indications suggest that the pilot has been safe, humane and effective in delivery a reduction in the badger population of just under 60%."

But campaigners branded the cull an "utter shambles."

"It is suspiciously convenient that as Defra Ministers were staring down the barrel of an unmitigated disaster, the badger kill targets have been halved and the government will declare the cull a success when everyone knows it's been an utter shambles," Wendy Higgins, Communications Director for HSI UK told Huffington Post UK.

"This has got to stop. Defra needs to come clean and kill the cull for good," she said.

Paterson has argued the cull is an essential part of TB control but shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh has dismissed the policy branding Defra "incompetent."

"Defra ministers are pressing ahead with a badger cull despite scientists warning against this untested and risky approach.

"The policing costs, paid by the taxpayer, will balloon to £4 million while bovine TB will increase in the next two years as the shooting displaces badgers.

"We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle."

Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild International, told HuffPost the move was an "inevitable last clutch at the straw by the government and NFU, and highlights yet more flaws in a hopeless policy."

"They failed to shoot as many badgers as they needed to ensure the culling didn't make the situation worse.

"They now claim that they don't need to kill as many badgers as planned because apparently in the last six months the numbers have 'dropped'. What happened - did all the badgers hear about the cull and take off on holiday?"

Animal rights group Peta told HuffPost the solution ultimately resided in people's eating habits.

"Piling on more and more dead badgers won't solve the problem of bovine tuberculosis (TB). This is policymaking on the hoof, and it flies in the face of both scientific evidence and public opinion.

"The solution is to curb harmful human eating habits – it's Britain's love for burgers that's killing the badgers. TB is predominantly caused by the intensive rearing and movement of cattle. Eating plants instead of animals is the only sustainable way to stop it from spreading, and it would also save millions of cows from a fate worse than death."

Perhaps this is what Paterson is thinking of?


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