Farm minister resolute about badger cull despite death threats
Farming minister David Heath has vowed not to be intimidated by opponents of the badger cull after revealing he has received death threats for his part in the controversial scheme.
The Liberal Democrat MP said that he fully accepted people's right to oppose the impending cull, but told The Independent he was "saddened by the misinformation and ignorance" exhibited by some opponents and by the tactics of intimidation they deployed.
"I do get the odd threat and it's not particularly nice," he said. "I understand people feeling strongly, but I don't understand people feeling that the right response is violence and intimidation. But I'm not going to be intimidated from doing the right thing."
Together with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, Mr Heath has become a target for campaigners angry at the Government's plan to reduce tuberculosis in cattle partly by culling the population of badgers, which are widely blamed for spreading the disease among cows.
Mr Heath revealed the intimidation he had suffered after Mr Paterson said earlier this year that he'd had more death threats since becoming the Environment Secretary last September than in his previous role as Northern Ireland Secretary.
Mr Heath said that while the death of any animal is sad, he was puzzled by the strength of opposition to the badger cull, given it is legal to kill animals such as deer, wild boar, foxes and grey squirrels to control their numbers.
"It is an incredibly emotive subject and I understand that the badger is an iconic species. But I don't understand how we have a hierarchy of species. Why are hedgehogs not something people care about? It seems that once you have a public outcry, people identify with it and attach themselves to it," Mr Heath said.
Even the Farming minister had to admit he could see the appeal of the black and white creatures, however. "I suppose you only have to look at badgers though, they're so cute," he observed while attending an excursion to vaccinate badgers against TB - another plank in the Government's bid to reduce the disease in cattle.
A trial cull of badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire, where bovine TB is rife, is due to begin with the aim of extending it across much of the country if it is deemed to be humane, efficient and safe.
However, the trial is highly controversial, with some opponents targeting farmers, marksmen, politicians and anyone else involved in the programme on moral grounds. As a result, participants are keeping the timing, location and every other detail of the cull secret for fear of reprisal if their identities are disclosed.
The badger cull is also opposed by many scientists who claim that fleeing badgers will spread the disease more widely while the badger vacuum created by the killings could attract infected animals from elsewhere.
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios
Film follows park rangers in the Congo
Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?
The last charge as western black rhino is declared extinct
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Brazilian wandering spider: Where are they from and how deadly are they?
Cannibal harlequin ladybirds now threaten native species with STDs
Dredging can make flooding worse, say activists
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake report claiming street artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
- 4 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 5 The inventor of the Facebook 'like' button says he never made a 'dislike' button because he feared the 'unfortunate consequences'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...
£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...
£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...