HC Deb 21 December 1965 vol 722 cc424-5W
Mr. Hazell

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the coypu campaign which his Department has undertaken in East Anglia during the past three years.

Mr. Peart

The campaign which opened in August 1962, will end on the 31st of this month. The coypu or nutria is a South American aquatic rodent which was introduced into Great Britain about 1930 for fur farming purposes. As a result of escapes from farms coypus established themselves in Norfolk and Suffolk and spread to neighbouring counties. It became clear that this animal was capable of causing serious damage to agricultural crops, especially sugar beet and other roots, as well as undermining the banks of rivers and dykes. It was therefore decided to launch a special campaign to bring the coypu under control.

Coypus have been systematically cleared by working inwards through Norfolk and North Suffolk through the heart of the infestation in the Norfolk Broads. In the more inaccessible areas of the Broads themselves, total eradication is not possible, but even there the coypu population has been reduced to manageable limits. As a result of this campaign, farmers and other occupiers should now be able to deal with the pest as is their responsibility. My Department will advise if individual occupiers need help and rabbit clearance societies will continue to receive grant for work against the coypu. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary will attend a meeting in Norwich on 6th January, 1966 to outline plans for ensuring that the pest does not reestablish itself, and he will convey my thanks to the many organisations which have contributed to the success of the campaign.