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Volume 952: debated on Friday 23 June 1978

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has received the report of the Coypu Strategy Group; and if he will make a statement.

Yes, and I am much indebted to Mr. Morton and his colleagues for a very full report on this vexing problem. I am arranging for a copy to be placed in the Library of the House, and for the report to be supplied to all organisations and individuals who helped the group in its extensive inquiries.The report examines various options for dealing with a coypu population now estimated to be increasing rather than decreasing as had previously been supposed. It concludes that special measures will be required, over a rather larger area of East Anglia, to maintain effective control and to pave the way for eradication, which the group favours as the long-term objective and for which it recommends new forms of research. There are also some proposals for adjusting the present operational and financial arrangements; and for strengthening existing safeguards against the escape or release of other non-indigenous species.The group emphasises how important it is to sustain present public support for measures against the coypu, and with that in mind we shall be consulting fully with national and local interests concerned before reaching any conclusions on the report.