Science & Environment

Prince Charles urged badger cull

Prince Charles Image copyright AP

Prince Charles asked the Blair government to consider the culling of badgers, historic documents reveal.

In a 2005 letter, the prince referred to "the most pressing and urgent problem" of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, which was "caused and spread" by badgers.

He wrote: "I do urge you to look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary.

The Labour government later rejected a cull in the English countryside.

The revelations come from private letters sent by the Prince of Wales to Labour ministers a decade ago, which have been published after a lengthy legal battle.

Prince Charles wrote: "I, for one, cannot understand how the 'badger lobby' seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle, and yet object to a managed cull of an over-population of badgers - to me, this is intellectually dishonest."

In reply, Mr Blair said he could "personally see the case for culling badgers" but did not want to prejudge a decision by environment ministers".

The coalition led by David Cameron gave the go-ahead for pilot culls in England in 2013.

These are expected to resume for a third year in the Southwest this year and may be rolled out to other areas of England.

Other letters written by the prince reveal more details of his interest in agriculture.

He appealed for support for farmers and British-grown produce, and raised his "anxiety" about the country's lack of self-sufficiency in foods such as meat and vegetables.

He also mentioned "the enormous problem of climate change", praising "the remarkable leadership role" the government was taking in this area.