HC Deb 23 May 1938 vol 336 cc842-3
40. Sir G. Fox

asked the Minister of Agriculture what is the approximate number of myopotami coypu at present maintained in fur farms in the British Isles; whether the farms in question are licensed or controlled in any way; whether any standards of fencing are laid down; whether the farms are inspected by his Department; and whether, in the public interest, any penal action can be taken against those farmers who allow their myopotami coypu to escape?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

I regret that the information asked for in the first part of my hon. Friend's question is not available. The farms in question are not subject to licence or control and no standards of fencing are laid down. Voluntary arrangements are, however, in operation under which farms on which these animals are known to be kept are periodically inspected by officers of my Department. I am not aware of any penal action that could be taken against breeders who allowed these animals to escape.

Sir G. Fox

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this animal grows to the size of a small spaniel and that no cat will tackle it; that recently one was shot on the Thames near Henley by a keeper; and what steps do the Department intend to take to reduce the number of these pests still at large?

Mr. Morrison

As I have informed my hon. Friend in a recent answer, we have had this animal closely watched for some years. The information at our disposal does not lead us to suppose that it would be appropriate to take the same action against it as we took against the musk rat, because it does not breed so fast and, as far as is known, does not do anything like the same damage. Experience in foreign countries where this animal has also escaped shows that it has not been a serious menace, but we are watching the situation and should it be necessary to take any measures we shall do so.

Mr. Macquisten

Has the Minister seen any account of the experiments in Aberdeen which showed that rats fed on pasteurised milk left no posterity; and could he not feed these animals on pasteurised milk?

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