Badgers 'should be on the pill'
22 July 2004 - BBC News
Britain's badger population should be given contraceptives to stop the
animals from spreading disease, MPs say. Badgers were described as "vermin" by
one Tory MP and blamed them for spreading tuberculosis to cattle.
The government confirmed that animal contraception trials had
already begun, with wild boars being given injections.
campaigners said badgers should not be blamed for the spread of bovine TB and
urged tighter livestock controls. Dr Elaine King of the National Federation of
Badger Groups said that many other animals could spread the disease to cattle.
She said it must be tackled "in the broadest possible context" as animals from
deer to shrews also carried TB. But she added: "Oral contraception may not be
the best idea, but we would say it needs to be looked at alongside other
The suggestion came in the House of Commons from Tory MP Patrick
McLoughlin, who urged that the animals be "put on the pill". Later in the debate
another Tory MP, Anthony Steen, said: "Badgers are vermin, there are no known
predators, the disease is spreading rampant throughout the south west; it's
inflicting enormous damage and loss on herds. Farmers are now less protected
than badgers and it appears the government couldn't care less."
minister Ben Bradshaw admitted that he was aware of research into animal
contraception. But he added: "I'm afraid we haven't yet got to the stage where a
reliable or effective method has been found."
Later a spokesman for the rural
affairs department, Defra, told BBC News Online that tests were being done on
wild boar to see if contraception was worthwhile. But the spokesman added that
the boar were being injected, which would not be suitable for badgers. There are
around 300,000 badgers in Britain.
They are often blamed for infecting cattle
with TB although there is no scientific proof.
For more information, please
click the following link: