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Badgers

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cage traps for catching badgers his Department holds in store. (203082)

DEFRA does not hold in storage any cage traps for catching badgers. The traps that were used during the randomised badger culling trial have been disposed of.

The Central Science Laboratory (an agency of DEFRA) holds over 600 badger cage traps which are being used as part of DEFRA-funded research.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated badger population was in England and Wales in each of the last 10 years. (203083)

Surveys of badger populations in Great Britain were undertaken in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s. In the mid-1980s the badger population was estimated to be 250,000 and in the mid-1990s a survey estimated the population had increased by 77 per cent.

DEFRA is not aware of any national surveys which have attempted to estimate badger populations in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice he has received on the potential effectiveness of a tuberculosis vaccine for badgers if given to an already infected animal. (203084)

Vaccination evokes an immune response to prevent an uninfected animal from contracting the disease. The effect of Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccination on already TB-infected badgers is unknown, but work is under way to determine this. It may have no effect, may delay or reduce excretion of TB bacilli, but is not expected to have any adverse effect.

Ecologists have advised that the turnover in a badger population is 30 per cent. per annum and modelling has shown that in a relatively short timescale there would be a mostly naïve uninfected population in which vaccine would become more effective.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information (a) is held by and (b) has been provided to each Divisional Veterinary Officer on the relocation of badgers from urban and suburban areas to rural areas. (203085)

This information is not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost to the Department.