Has WAG considered all the facts and cost implications with regards to the North Pembrokeshire Badger Cull?
1 Jun 2010, 1:33 PM
Mike Snow is also concerned regarding the costs of badger culling. His letter (reproduced below with his permission) makes some very important points. He sent the letter to: Elin Jones, (Minister of Rural Affairs), Dr Christianne Glossop (Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales) with copies to Peter Black, Lorraine Barrett, Alun Ffred Jones (Minister of Heritage) the Auditor General, NFU and FUW, and Pembrokeshire against the Cull.
'The Hon. Mr Justice Lloyd Jones has found in favour of the Welsh Ministers on all four counts in the recent Judicial Review. However, the substance of his judgement, now in the public domain, raises serious issues that warrant review and public debate.
It is clear in the judgement that the Minister of Rural Affairs was not aware of the most recent available science when she made her decision to proceed with the cull. It is equally clear to the public that the scientific data not taken into account influences the analysis of cost-effectiveness in an unknown way.
In the judgement, paragraph 14 makes it abundantly clear that it is ‘for Welsh Ministers, acting within their powers and on the basis of expert scientific advice, to decide the appropriate course of action. Although in paras 51 – 59 the judge seeks to evaluate the disregarded science he has previously stated that this is not his job, but that of Welsh Ministers. As constitutionally the Ministers are supposed to reflect the debated feeling of the elected house they represent, not the views of a judge, this matter must be put to that house.
There will be an impact on the cost analysis for the cull, particularly in the light of the reduced benefits of the cull admitted in the hearing. When costs are discussed the various other omissions must be taken into account also. As a matter of record or on the Ministers own admissions elsewhere there has been:
- no assessment of the impact of the cull on tourism;
- there has been no debate let alone decision on what levels of compensation should be paid because of loss of earnings in that sector;
- no account was taken of increased policing costs and there is already in place a extra team of four officers in Crymych;
I would further suggest that because of the shortcomings inherent in the consultation process and the inflammatory way in which it was conducted there has been:
- inadequate account taken of the administrative costs of informing residents in the IAPA of what is happening, what their rights are etc;
- an underestimate of the man-power costs of carrying out surveys etc.
During the discussion on costs Ministers should be aware that the computer modelling of the cull is flawed and produces enhanced beneficial outcomes. The analysis leading to that conclusion is reproduced below.'
Concerns with the modelling process.
1. The badger ecology data used are based upon the population at Woodchester Park. This is acknowledged as an extraordinary population, exhibiting far greater density and much larger family group sizes than any other studied (Carpenter PJ et al; Mol. Ecol. 14, 273-284, 2005). 2. Reviewed data from 18 studies (Johnson DDP; Mammal Rev. 30, 171-196, 2000: Northern Ireland Badger Survey 2007 by Quercus & CSL) indicate average family size between 4 and 6 with population density of about 5 per sq km in favourable circumstances; average territory size is about 0.75 sq km. The WAG model presumes a family size of 7.5 and a territory size (ranging area) of 1.3 sq km. 3. The model presumes distribution of bTB infection is random, with 1.3 badgers per group carrying the disease. We know this to be untrue; bTB in badgers is clustered, with many groups infection free (Delahay RJ et al; J.anim. ecol. 69, 428-441 2000). 4. In modelling perturbation, badgers are only permitted to move into nearby territories that contain few or no badgers. This is unrealistic, as under stress badgers will seek to move anywhere to escape. It is this fact that provokes fighting, increases infection chances and results in elevated levels of TB in the surviving badgers. The model underestimates the perturbation effect as a result. 5. The spatial settings in the model are questionable. WAG (2008) Agricultural Statistics list 3578 holdings in Pembrokeshire, of which 1335 have cattle. If randomly distributed in the county then in the IAPA (288 sq km, 18% of the county) there would be 650 holdings, 240 with cattle. The model sets 917 holdings and assumes all have cattle. Why does the model use these figures? (At the Cattle Owners Briefing it was announced that there are 368 cattle owners in the area). 6. The settings for Infection Transmission Probabilities are questionable. The model is set up to achieve a disease prevalence in badgers of 18% and a confirmed herd breakdown rate of 8%. The WAG statistics indicate badger infection levels of below 15% and CHB as about 5%. The badger-to-badger infection rate is set at 0.021, whereas cow-to-cow transmission is 0.0071. Is it really credible that bTB is three times more infectious among badgers than cattle? DEFRA statistics, on nearly 20,000 badgers show a steady state level of bTB infection in badgers of 4.5% nationwide and 1.8% in Dyfed between 1972 and 1998 – these figures suggest a very low badger-to-badger infection rate. In the light of these considerations I believe the WAG modelling presents a speciously attractive outcome for a cull.
3 Nov 2012, 4:14 PM
Welsh public don't want badger cull, were the wise words of Welsh deputy farming minister Alun Davies who recently squashed any hopes that a badger cull will take place in Wales to combat bovine tuberculosis.
At the NFU Cymru conference in Builth Wells on 1 November, Mr Davies said that the arguments for and against a cull were over and that culling was no longer on the agenda.
He told farmers that "When I was campaigning for re-election it was clear that there was no support in the Welsh public for a badger cull; in fact there is active opposition. Politicians in every constituency would lose their deposits if they were campaigning for a cull today. We can constantly look back and wish that things were different but there is no support among the Welsh public or indeed the Welsh government to go ahead with a badger cull. There is simply not a majority in the Senedd to pass the policy you require; it is a matter of mathematical reality.''
He insisted that the Welsh government was the only UK administration that was actively tackling the reservoir of TB in badgers. The first cycle of a five-year badger vaccination programme was completed last month. "I know we have a policy that is in tune with the public mood," Mr Davies added.
He sympathised with farmers whose herds were infected by bovine TB. "One of the great tragedies of the debate is that it is centred on the future of the badger and not the future of Welsh agriculture," he said.
Interesting post on PAC website under heading 'Killing badgers risks seriously wounding tourism'. www.badgerall.com/blog/killing-badgers-risks-seriously-wounding-tourism
'With decisions imminent yet again on whether to kill thousands of badgers in west Wales, and now south west England as well, people are once again highlighting the very real risk of blighting tourism in these areas - and with it many local jobs and businesses. A recent report by the British Hospitality Association ‘Hospitality in Wales: driving local economies and underpinning communities’ reinforces how vital this sector is to our economy saying “The hospitality industry is one of the main pillars of the Welsh economy and the economic driver of almost every part of the country.” It identifies each local authority area in Wales and the contribution made to it by the hospitality industry in terms of employment and net wealth creation. Pembrokeshire is the third most dependent on this sector with it representing 15.2% of total employment'.
'he Welsh Government announced earlier in 2011 that tourism and hospitality will be designated a priority sector by the Department responsible for Business and Economy, recognising it’s importance to Wales, especially to regional economies. This is good news – but let’s hope that translates to ensuring all departments proposing major programmes must actually consider their impact on tourism before approval. There was no such consideration by Elin Jones, former Minister for Rural Affairs when she pursued her first proposals to kill large numbers of badgers in west Wales. Many people then raised the damage to tourism as a serious issue but received no satisfactory response. Some reported the ill effects of the threat of a cull on their businesses directly to PAC – bookings plummeting as visitors, many of them regulars who came specifically for the wildlife and beautiful unspoilt countryside, recoiled from the prospect. And some told us how bookings and activity picked up immediately once the Court of Appeal quashed the first order to cull – one said the phone literally started ringing again the day after the ruling.'
Then there are several quotes and comments from tourists on the cull.
31 Oct 2011, 9:19 AM
Interestingly the number of overdue tests in the same area has gone up! There were 260 overdue tests at the end of July 2010 but this has increased to 428 in July 2011. I wonder why?
28 Oct 2011, 6:30 PM
Email from MG 26/10/11 who has looked at the figures for Devon, another so called 'hot spot' for bTB.
From the latest (Jan to July 2011) Defra DEVON Stats below it can be seen that:
0.56% of total cattle have been slaughtered due to failing the Btb test. Line 10 +11+12 (3,592*) as a % of Line 4 (644,629)
* Based on Defra's 99.9% (Ha Ha) specificity for the skin test 644 ( i.e. 18%) of those tested positive could have been False. This false percentage doubles to 36% if the specificity is 99.8%
Of the 937 Herds under Movement Restriction (Line 16) at the end of July 2011 805 were due to overdue tests. Therefore 132 (937-805) herds were under movement restriction out of 5661 i.e. 2.3%.
0 (Line 14) cases have yet to be confirmed Based on these numbers why would any rational business person invest £1000's of pounds up front for a Badger Cull which promises at best a zero or negative payback over 7 years.
Plus damage their local tourism industry, and risk a boycott of their products.
DEFRA BOVINE TB STATS FOR JAN to JULY 2011 Published October 2011 Devon 1. Total Number of Cattle Herds registered on Vetnet 5,661 2. ...of which were under TB2 restrictions because of a TB incident at some time during the reporting period 1,092 TB tests carried out (in year to date) 3. Total Number of Herd Tests (incl. gamma interferon tests) 4,168 4. Total Number of Cattle Tested (incl. gamma interferon tests) 644,629 TB incidents (started in year to date) 5. Total New Herd TB Incidents 452 6. ...of which are officially TB free status withdrawn (OTFW) breakdowns 260 7. ...of which are officially TB free status suspended (OTFS) breakdowns 181 8. ...of which are still Unclassified TB Incidents (pending culture results) 11 9. Total number of officially TB free status withdrawn (OTFW) breakdowns in 2010 (year end) 501 Animals slaughtered (in year to date, excluding any reactors awaiting slaughter on the date of the data download) 10. As Reactors (inc. IRx3 and gamma interferon positives) 3,515 11. As Inconclusive Reactors (IRs) 9 12. As Direct Contacts (DCs) 68 13. Slaughterhouse cases reported to Animal Health 110 14. … of which are considered Confirmed 0 TB tests overdue at the end of the month (by time overdue) 15. Total TB tests overdue 805 Herds under TB2 restrictions at the end of the month (due to a TB incident, overdue TB test, etc) 16. Herds under movement restriction on 31 July 2011 937
• There are more herds under movement restriction due to overdue tests than due to bovine TB
• % of Herds in Wales under movement restriction at July 2011 Due to overdue tests: 5.9% Due to Btb: 2.8%
• Herds under movement restriction due to overdue tests have increased by 65% in Dyfed and 57% in Wales between July 2010 and July2011.
• Herds under movement restriction due to Btb have decreased in Dyfed by 42% and in Wales by 44% between July 2010 and July 2011.
• Using Defra ‘s published Skin Test Specificity of 99.9%
19.3% cattle tested positive in Dyfed were likely to be FALSE 24.3% cattle tested positive in Wales were likely to be FALSE
• There are no equivalent statistics published for the IAA. WG Bovine tb Team does not routinely collect this data. (Ref response FOI Request 5435 response dated 9/9/2011)
WALES July 2010 July 2011 Total Herds 13123 12791 Herds under Movement Restriction
Due to Overdue Tests 479 755 (5.9% of Total) % change 2010 to 2011 +57%
Due to BTB 638 356 (2.8% of Total) % change 2010 to 2011 -44%
West Wales (Dyfed) July 2009 July 2010 July 2011 Total Herds 4838 4756 4666 Herds under Movement Restriction
Due to Overdue Tests (% of Total) 425(8.8%) 260 (5.4%) 428 (9.1%) Year on Year % change -49% +65%
Due to BTB (% of Total) 380 (7.8%) 313 (6.6%) 182 (3.9%) Year on Year % change -18% -42%
28 Oct 2011, 6:21 PM
Press Release from Badger Trust (dated 27+/10/11)
Cattle TB down 37 per cent in Dyfed but no badgers killed
Thirty-seven per cent fewer cattle with bovine TB have had to be slaughtered in the first seven months of this year compared with the first seven months of 2009 in the county where the killing of badgers has been proposed. This heartening reduction is revealed in Defra figures  published only days before the final meeting of the Welsh Government’s independent panel of experts reviewing the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales.
It has been achieved in Dyfed , where the Welsh Government will be considering whether to allow badgers to be killed following the review of the science by the independent panel. David Williams, chairman of the Badger Trust said: “Surely any decision to kill badgers cannot now be justified. This reduction in Dyfed is too big, too rapid and too sustained to be ignored, even though the figures are only for the first halves of the years concerned. Furthermore, Wales as a whole saw a 28 per cent fall  over the same periods, again too big to be brushed aside. We are also concerned at the number of overdue tests”.
However, it is disappointing that bovine TB figures for England show a provisional 6.0 per cent increase in the number of new TB incidents for January to July, compared with the same period in 2010 . Mr Williams commented that the comparison with Wales, and Dyfed in particular, indicated how effective the more stringent testing and movement controls have been in Wales, and called for the same rigour to be applied in England by the Coalition Government.
“It is high time to stop arguing about wasting time and money on trying to kill off badgers in the hope of a comparatively tiny benefit over a nine-year period”, said Mr Williams. We need universal annual testing of cattle, effective movement and registration controls and an end to farmers trying to evade them. Firm controls  worked supremely well in the past, bringing the annual cattle toll to as low as 628 in 1979 . The annual total remained at about 1,000 a year for 20 years - and the 11-year reactive badger culling programme during that time had no effect overall”.
 The Eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis in Great Britain by W D Macrae MRCVS, DVSM (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food). Zoological Society of Great Britain from Symp. Zool. Soc, London. Mo 4, pp.81-90 (April 1961).
 Complied from historic Maff/Defra annual bovine TB records.
10 Oct 2011, 7:25 PM
Email from PT 10/10/11
But despite the lengthy story on the testing and the ins and outs, I do find some optimism from slide "the future" near the end. He concedes the lack of public health benefit and hence concedes bTB is just an animal disease and it is trade that is driving legislation. He even agrees that the inhalation risk of transmission from cattle to humans is very small. This is quite something....
But when the value of the trade is a small fraction of the cost of the "cure", then clearly the legislation needs to change....
The bits on the skin test (and other tests) are indeed interesting and much of info echoes that of the discussion paper by the think tank Rethink Bovine TB, 'Bovine TB, Time for a Rething' (www.rethinkbtb.org) , in particular with similar concerns regarding accuracy. This section should be read carefully. It clearly reveals just how imperfect the skin test is. Those delaying the implementation of cattle vaccination give the reason that vaccination is not effective enough - however, it could well be that it would be more effective bearing in mind the policy is currently based solely on an imperfect skin test. Of great concern is that towards the end of the presentation, when discussing cattle vaccination for bTB and need to change EU legislation it states there is 'little if any appetite for this' - giving dates as 2015, 2020 and 2025? If this is correct how could Defra have got it so wrong in their 2010 consultation papers?
It is suggested we learn from countries like Australia, New Zealand and the Americas - skin test is used as it was designed for - as a herd test so any reactors and the whole herd is slaughtered with long term stocking delays - never suggested for UK (thankfully).
Some contradiction - Outcomes of Human Exposure seems to be unnecessarily pessimistic (and, for some reason, compared with Ethiopia?) when much later (towards end of presentation under 'The Future') they ask 'where is the public good in controlling bTB?' and confirm risk to humans is low becuase of pasteurisation and 'little evidence of inhalation risk from cattle to humans'. Yet again we are not told why, with such low risks, bTB needs to be dealt with so much more rigidly than any other disease/zoonosis.
Information on dealing with wildlife reservoirs is confusing as appears to contradicts other scientific reports.
A few misleading phrases are clarified. Let's not forget that OTF means 'free to trade' - not necessarily bTB free. Sadly nothing in here about the terminology relating to the skin test and how many cattle are actually being killed needlessly because they have merely been exposed to the bacteria that causes bTB.
Interestingly looking at the graph 'Is bTB improving' which goes up to 2009 (I assume this is England and Wales), it shows it is declining from its peak, despite the number of tests increasing with WAG apparently reporting a 14% reduction in new incidents and 28% less animals slaughtered in first 10 monthsof 2010 10 months of 2010.
20 Aug 2011, 9:57 PM
Interesting observation emailed to us by PA 5/8/11 regarding the Pembrokeshire proposed badger cull.
We must now also consider recent events. They were here, through the thresholds that belong to all of us, they'd changed the law, they'd bullied, intimidated and forced there point, they spent alot of taxpayers money on publicity, propoganda, intimidation, consultations and balaclavas, and then they even had a debate in a house full of politicians in Cardiff and decided that they were going to continue with the cull. After all that they were here, guns in hand so to speak. Then they changed their mind and decided that they weren't going to kill badgers.
Why? There was no reason why they should stop, in fact it should follow that they should be here killing badgers.
There can be only one reason.
Bovine TB isn't an animal health issue, it's a political issue.
In fact, if all of our experiences here in Pembs. over the last few years up to and including now are anything to go by then if we take into consideration what has happened in the last 60 yrs also, then it is reasonable to believe that it has never been anything other than a political issue.
I don't see how there can be any other conclusion, in my experience that is. I believe that That which was to be demonstrated, has been!
6 Aug 2011, 5:23 PM
Welsh Review Panel Named The panel of experts that will undertake Wales’ review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB has now been named. Wales’ Chief Scientific Adviser Professor John Harries and the recently appointed Chair of the panel, Professor Christopher Gaskell, have announced the panel will be:
Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, the Chair of Public Health Wales and Director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University
Professor Malcolm Bennett FRCPath FHEA, Co-Director of the UK National Centre for Zoonosis Research and Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Liverpool
Professor Bridget Emmett, Deputy Director of the Biogeochemistry Programme, Section Head and Head of Site at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in Bangor
Professor Charles Godfray CBE FRS, a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and Hope Professor at the Department of Zoology of the University of Oxford
Professor Dirk Pfeiffer is a Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology, and Head of the Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health Group in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the Royal Veterinary College (University of London).
Professor Gaskell is Principal of the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. He is a member of the Science Advisory Council for Wales - and was one of the panel of experts convened by Defra whose 'key conclusions' on the science re bovine tb were published shortly before Caroline Spelman announced plans to trial free shooting of badgers. The 'key conclusions' are claimed by some to provide a case for culling badgers, but others, notably Lord Krebs (himself a member of the panel), say they do not support culling as a way forward.
Speaking about the newly named panel, Professor Gaskell said: “I am very pleased with the make up of the panel. It brings together a range of experience and perspectives which will allow us to make a full and proper assessment of the evidence base that informed the programme for the eradication of bovine TB. I very much look forward to working with the panel in taking forward this important work on what is undoubtedly a difficult area.The panel will invite and take evidence from experts in the area as appropriate. Their report is expected to be completed by the autumn.”
21 Jul 2011, 6:32 PM
Email from AD 21/7/11 I did a calc on the all Wales figures and that showed incidence still declining well - both in no of cattle slaughtered and herd breakdowns.
The detailed Wales figures - which will give us West Wales figs specifically - aren't out yet, but might well be better than all Wales (as they have been for past year).
21 Jul 2011, 6:32 PM
Email from GL 21/7/11 The latest UK stats for first four months of this year, (despite their desperation to put a spin on it,) show that 292 more cattle were slaughtered in the UK this year over the same period last year and 3,251 less than in 2009. When you factor in that there were 234,014 extra cattle tested this year than in last year the figures look quite good. Wales will have preformed much better than England but I cannot find seperate Welsh figures.
Spelman was incorrect to describe this as a situation out of control.
12 Jul 2011, 12:52 PM
Is culling badgers really going to solve the farmers' problems?
For many culling is not an acceptable option and the vast majority of public opinion is against culling. Now Lord John Kreb, the leading government adviser who wrote the initial report on badgers and TB in 1997 has made his views know. On 11 July 2011 he announced that he was against any culling proposals. So, here we have another expert who would appear to know what he is talking about and willing to make his views known. He has clearly said that he does not think culling is 'an effective policy'. What he says seems to make perfect sense, but will the Government take notice? He follows several experts in coming out against culling. He said trials had shown that a cull would only reduce the amount of TB in cattle by something in the region of 12 to 16%. "So you leave 85% of the problem still there, and having gone to a huge amount of trouble to kill a huge number of badgers, it just doesn't seem to me to be an effective way of dealing with the disease," he said.
According to the Independent article, 'The remarks from Lord Krebs, now principal of Jesus College, Oxford, raise the political stakes enormously in what is already a potential minefield for the Prime Minister, who has trouble enough on his plate with the phone-hacking scandal without alienating large numbers of animal- lovers. Lord Krebs' remarks are embarrassing because the Government has said it will be led by the science. It was as a result of the Krebs report, which said that there was no doubt that wild badgers did carry TB and did pass it on to cattle, that the Government set up the badger-culling trials, which lasted for more than seven years.'
Apparently Lord Krebs said he recommended the trials because it was not known whether a cull would be effective or cost-effective, and his view of the issue was only formulated once he had seen the results. While the trials showed culling did have an effect if it was done on a large scale, it was a relatively small one, he said. Asked if he thought a badger cull would be a mistake, he said: "Yes." He said: "To me the story is pretty straightforward. If you've got a measure that affects 15% of the problem, then you don't focus on that. You focus on something else."
Interestingly Farming Today included a piece about meat from reactors going into the food chain. It said that the carcasses from reactors and inconclusives were sold into the food chain, with the Government receiving the income from these. Carcasses with lesions could legally enter the food chain for human consumption once the area affected was removed and there was negligible risk to human health, even if lesions remained in the meat, as cooking destroyed the bacteria. Surprisingly Defra has only just started keeping figures regarding this area. The programme also referred to the fact that there was negligible risk to humans from bovine TB now most milk is pasteurised so again we ask, why all the fuss about bovine TB?
According t the BBC (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-13956000) the heads of the three regional bovine TB eradication boards in Wales have resigned claiming they have been 'badly misled' by the Welsh Government. This seems a rather odd decision for so called 'experts'. Surely in view of the massive public opposition, confusing science and cost of a cull Griffiths is right to look into the issue again to ensure the right decision is made.
Reading through the various news reports and statements by this minister it is clear he is a conscientious and caring person. He has been criticized for previously voting in support of the badger cull. However, it is clear that he and the majority of his Labour colleagues, only voted for this as part of the Plaid Cymru / Labour coalition commitments made between the two parties. Now Labour are governing alone, if they are not confident they made the right decision originally or they consider the science has moved on then they are doing what is right. Such research is in the public interest, particularly as a second judicial review is pending.
After all in the Intensive Action Area of Pembrokeshire it is not just farmers who are now being affected by this wretched policy and if culling proceeds it appears their enjoyment of their property could be blighted for many years as once culling starts it must continue for some five years.
23 Jun 2011, 7:47 PM
On 22/6/11 John Griffiths, the Environment Minister announced that the new Welsh Government is going to do as the Labour manifesto pledged and conduct a review of the science and evidence regarding bovine TB. An independent panel will be appointed and led by Professor John Harries, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Welsh Assembly. The proposed badger cull will not be implemented while the independent review takes place.
The expert panel is expected to report in the autumn - and the future direction of the bovine tb eradication policy and culling badgers will depend on their report and recommendations.
The pro culling Assembly Members (AMs) who asked questions were pretty vitriolic. John Griffiths, however, held steady and calm. What was worrying was some of the incorrect information from some AMs - such as Antoinette Sandbach referring to the 'pilot' cull. It is no longer a pilot - that terminology was removed for the second WAG consultation and Order (along with any option for vaccination) and the corresponding information said that there wasn't the capability to roll out similar culling operations to other areas. "Although it is important that we deal with TB in all endemic areas in Wales the Welsh Assembly Government is not in a position to implement a badger culling strategy across all endemic areas." In typical overblown form, Elin Jones said "Today, you missed the opportunity to break the chain and to eradicate this disease in Wales." This is just ludicrous - to suppose that killing badgers in a 288 sq km area for which the estimated 'benefit' varied wildly between 12% and at the most optimistic 21.6% fewer herd breakdowns over 10 years - could be the make or break in eradicating bovine TB in Wales. Especially when culling has been shown to increase the prevalence of bovine TB in badgers - WAG's own information said culling wasn't feasible in other areas - and there is the option to vaccinate badgers which Pembrokeshire Against the Cull are pushing for.
We have just heard, following the statement by Environment Minister, John Griffiths, today that the Welsh Government has decided to conduct a review of the evidence and the best way forward in tackling bovine TB (bTB) based on the science. Mr Griffiths said a new body to investigate the best way to stamp out bovine TB would be led by chief scientific adviser Professor John Harries. The report will be published in the autumn, with the current system of cattle controls to continue until then.
Mr Griffiths said: 'Bovine TB is the subject of considerable debate. This is also true of the huge body of scientific research related to the disease. The eradication of bovine TB in Wales is a long term Welsh Government commitment. It will require the application of new technologies and scientific developments as they become available.'
He went on to say that "The Welsh Government will continue to monitor these new technologies and the continued evolution of the policy. That is why I have commissioned a review of the scientific evidence base regarding the eradication of bovine TB in Wales. There will be no cull of badgers in the Intensive Action Area while the review is being carried out. The Welsh Government remains fully committed to eradicating bovine TB and this review of the scientific evidence base will contribute to that objective. This government recognises the significant financial and social impacts of bovine TB on farmers and the wider community in Wales.'
He confirmed that 'The Welsh Government paid out just over £12 million in compensation last year and at any time approximately 10% of cattle farms in Wales are under movement restrictions as a consequence of bovine TB. This impact should not and can not be sustained and so as a government we are committed to the eradication of bovine TB in Wales.”
The Badger Trust, in its press release, said 'It is not yet known if the decision will mean that any further steps to implement a cull in West Wales will be put on hold while the review is under way. This will be necessary to reassure farmers and other residents in the area who oppose a cull and would be subject to a severe interference with their rights to peaceful enjoyment of their property if powers were to be exercised under the draconian Order made by the last administration. The Trust is pleased to learn that the badger trapping and shooting contract has been stood down pending the review. While the Trust maintains that the evidence and reasoning underpinning the last administration’s decision to cull was legally flawed and was likely to have been quashed by the High Court on judicial review, the Trust is pleased that there is now to be a rigorous review by an independent panel of the strategy. Although the Badger Trust remains determined to take whatever legal steps are required to safeguard this protected species against unjustified slaughter, the Trust now hopes that the proposed judicial review challenge can be avoided. Badger Trust and its co-claimant supporters in the proposed cull zone are carefully reviewing the Minister's statement overnight with the benefit of legal advice.'
I didn’t realise that farming ONLY contributes 0.5% to the Welsh economy per year. Yes I checked!
The tourist Industry, I looked up, contributes 13.3%. The foot and mouth outbreak saw a 75% decline in tourism. Would I be wrong in assuming that if a badger cull goes ahead there would be a similar decline in tourism in the IAA? Yet this fear is always pooh poohed.
Iolo ap Dafydd did mention the recent BBC poll (www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/science-environment-13684482) with two thirds against a cull but this wasn’t put to Gareth Vaughan retiring FUW president who was adamant that where badgers had been killed bovine TB dropped dramatically. Then the ‘emotional’ bit, that this action was needed to safeguard the welfare of badgers and cattle. No mention of vaccination either.
Alun Davies was then interviewed and took the Government line that though there was no rural affairs minister, farming now had 2 ministers. Interestingly Davies is answerable to Edwina Hart with business enterprise as brief. He mentioned more than once the fabulous Welsh farmers produce. Besides Welsh lamb is this true? I don’t see much fruit and veg and barely saw Pembroke potatoes this year. Gower potatoes like Gower caulis disappeared some time ago – at least I don’t see them nor my greengrocer.
Just amazed that in this mainly rural land, with usually good rainfall, the farmers contribute so little to the economy. Questions need to be asked. Or am I missing something?
Lets' not forget that, going back to the bTB issue, 10 times more cattle are slaughtered each year for mainly preventable reasons eg. lameness, mastitis etc and NOTHING is done about this. This is very rarely mentioned and is truly an ECONOMIC SCANDAL.
28 May 2011, 7:33 PM
Below is a copy of a letter (email dated 25/5/11 refers) Joyce Watson, Assembly Minister, sent to John Griffiths, the new Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development in the Welsh Government about the former Rural Affairs Minister’s decision to carry out a cull of badgers in west Wales.
I am writing to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development. I know that you will bring the same force of direction and diligence that you applied to your role in the previous administration of Wales.
Now we have our new Labour administration, I believe it is important for us to look afresh at decisions made by the previous One Wales administration and to set new priorities.
I must ask you to revisit the previous Rural Affairs Minister’s decision to carry out a cull of badgers in west Wales.
While there are strong feelings on both sides of this debate, a mass cull of a protected species would only be justified if it could be proved that such action would eliminate or substantially reduce the incidence of TB in cattle. I do not believe that this case has been proved.
When the previous Minister launched the consultation on the badger cull order, she stated that through culling alone she expects ‘to have reduced bovine TB in cattle in the area by approximately 22%’, preventing an estimated 83 confirmed herd breakdowns that would otherwise have occurred in the absence of culling badgers in the area.’ But as the Badger Trust have pointed out, an extrapolation of the last two years’ figures, for 2008 and 2009, for Dyfed means that there will be 6,255 breakdowns over 10 years. Therefore, 83 over that period would be 13 in a 1,000, which is not substantial in my opinion.
What we have seen is a reduction in incidences of TB in cattle through improved cattle-side measures. The figures published for the period between January and November 2010 show a reduction of 34 per cent over the equivalent period in 2009. Since 2008, the proportion of cattle slaughtered in west Wales is down by a projected 41 per cent.
This significant improvement has been achieved through improved surveillance, improved cattle disease controls and a regional approach without any badgers having been destroyed.
I urge you to build on the success of the cattle-side measures and to investigate the efficacy and practicability of a wildlife vaccine – an injectable badger vaccine is already available, and this has been shown in laboratory and field trials to reduce badger infectivity by 74 per cent.
I also urge you to heed the findings of the Independent Scientific Group. The Group’s final paper on the results of the randomised badger culling trial found that there is no long-term benefit of badger culling on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle. The paper concludes:
‘Our findings show that the reductions in cattle TB incidence achieved by repeated badger culling were not sustained in the long term after culling ended and did not offset the financial costs of culling. These results, combined with evaluation of alternative culling methods, suggest that badger culling is unlikely to contribute effectively to the control of cattle TB in Britain.’
Good luck in your new post and I look forward to working closely with you on this and other matters, for the benefit of west Wales.
Joyce Watson AM/AC
24 May 2011, 7:36 PM
Viva, (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) secretly filmed at three Welsh markets and sent the footage footage to Assembly Ministers responsible for bTB policy. Viva is asking that the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to stop the plans for a badger, accusing the Welsh Assembly and the farming industry of allowing TB in through the backdoor whilst wrongly blaming Welsh wildlife for the spread of the disease.
Despite the Welsh Government’s official guidelines urging good biosecurity at markets to stop disease spread (and highlighting that they are legally binding) Viva says that disregard for the most basic biosecurity measures appeared to be endemic in Welsh markets and could be a major risk factor in spreading TB to cattle in the country.
Carmarthen Market (filmed Wednesday 30 March 2011) 97% of visitors are filmed ignoring simple biosecurity measures despite clearly marked signs asking them to dip their feet and wear appropriate footwear.
Whitland Market (filmed Wednesday 30 March 2011) No biosecurity measures are initially in place as the market begins, despite being designated as a Red/TB cattle market (where cattle under disease restrictions are sold for slaughter. An Animal Health official exclaims amazement on camera that she recently watched tested and non-tested cattle being widely mixed at a recent Carmarthen market. She says she was “seething”.
Cardigan Market (filmed Monday 4 April 2011) Despite being within the Intensive Action Area, not a single person was observed following simple biosecurity precautions such as dipping boots at this market. A worker for a tag making company admits that tag swapping by sheep producers is widespread. This could be indicative of similar practices in cattle farming, which have recently come to light in England.
Viva!’s campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell, says: “Why do farmers appear to be so willing to pull the trigger on the country’s wildlife when they are clearly ignoring a problem much closer to home? Biosecurity appears to be treated with absolute contempt by most people who visit Welsh markets if our footage is anything to go by. It’s not rocket science, bad biosecurity at markets has the potential to be a major route of infection. People should be angry that badgers are being made a scapegoat judging by what we saw, is it any wonder that TB has spread like wildfire through parts of the country? We are calling on Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour to dump plans to kill badgers in Wales, as we believe that this footage is damning and is likely indicative of general practice at Welsh markets. Why should Welsh wildlife die when even the simplest precautions against disease are so flagrantly flouted? We’ve said it before – and we’ll say it again – bad farming practices and previous bad political decisions are at the root of the TB epidemic, not badgers.”
According to the Daily Post (http://www.dailypost.co.uk/farming-north-wales/farming-news/2011/05/19/farm-bloggers-denounce-viva-biosecurity-stunt-55578-28721100/) farming message boards on the web have denounced the filming as a publicity stunt.
You can view Viva’s edited footage on You Tube here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In-F4rnCQ74&feature=youtu.be
24 May 2011, 7:17 PM
A look at the most recent 'Detailed TB Statistics' for period 1 Jan 28 Feb shows a continuing decline in the number of cattle testing positive to the TB test in Wales.
24 May 2011, 6:57 PM
Email Dr DF 21/4/11
Food for thought.....
Removing badgers will cause competitive release of other predators in the landscape (badgers eat foods and take up space occupied by other carnivores). It is known from the work undertaken by the ISG in England that the fox population went off the roof when the badgers were killed.
This led to calls for a fox cull.......
Once foxes are taken out, their main prey source increase in number – the main prey of foxes in most areas are rodents.
Rodents cause a serious economic impact to agriculture, forestry, infrastructure and cost the economy millions in pest control every year, this cost will likely rise (rodent populations will increase if we remove their predators).
Rodents eat insects and fruit and nuts and affect the amount of food potential available for birds which drive a major multi-million £ industry (bird watching and ecotourism). I could go on and on, the world is interconnected and not isolated into little boxes.
The effects of these potential occurrences are not going to measured by WAG, are likely to occur over a period of years and ARE NOT taken into account in any balancing exercise.
I am far from pleased that a majority vote AGAINST a cull by the people of Wales is being ignored whilst the minority vote for Yes in the referendum was welcomed as categorically stating that the public want WAG to have greater powers.
Paradoxical and quite frightening that if the government doesn’t hear what it wants to hear it ignores the people. A brave new world indeed,
16 May 2011, 1:35 PM
Welsh Cattle Market Biosecurity Failings Exposed by Viva "APPALLING biosecurity lapses have been filmed at three Welsh livestock markets in an area suffering from widespread TB infections in cattle" say Animal group Viva who carried out undercover filming at Carmarthen, Whitland and Cardigan cattle markets. (For those unfamiliar with West Wales - Cardigan is on the boundary of the Intensive Action Area where the badger cull is proposed.) Their footage shows an overwhelming majority of visitors to the markets ignoring basic biosecurity measures such as foot dips and includes an Animal Health officer describing how untested and TB tested cattle had been allowed to mix. Viva says this is a 'shocking own goal' for the farming industry whilst they are blaming badgers for TB. They are calling on the Welsh Government, to whom they have sent their footage, to stop the badger cull. The full statement from Viva - with details of biosecurity breaches observed at each market visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=In-F4rnCQ74&feature=youtu.be
8 May 2011, 12:10 PM
Elin Jones AM, the Minister for Rural Affairs in the last Welsh Assembly acknowledges that she lost votes due to her TB eradication policy:
“I know that I have lost a significant number of votes in this election due to my TB eradication policy and I faced a concerted campaign to oust me as the local AM by local anti-cull activists. However, this was never a one-issue referendum and I’m pleased that the people of Ceredigion recognised this and re-elected me on the basis of my hard work on their behalf”. (From Tivyside Online.)
A Pembrokeshire Against the Cull supporter sent us this analysis of the results in Elin Jones’ constituency (email 7/5/11):
Compared with 2007 – the last election
Elin Jones Plaid lost 2798 votes i.e. 19% of her 2007 total. Lost 7.9% share of the vote – 49% - 41% National loss to Plaid was 3.1%. Elin Jones loss was 7.9% so had a significantly greater swing against HER than Plaid had Nationally.
Liz Evans Lib Dem anti- cull held onto the Lib Dem vote – down 0.9%, down about 4% nationally.
Labour and Greens both anti cull, picked up 4058 votes compared with 1530 in 2007 (Greens didn’t stand in 2007).
Looked at another way: Pro cull vote 12020 Anti cull vote 17056
The analyser concludes ‘ the PAC campaign in Ceredigion had some effect’ and this was acknowledged by Elin Jones (see her quote above).
I wonder how many votes Elin Jones lost Plaid throughout Wales?
The 17000 respondents to the badger cull consultation who were completely ignored by Elin Jones (as they were in the earlier consultation) are the type of people who would turn up to vote but hardly likely to vote Plaid when their voices were not listened to.
21 Apr 2011, 6:13 PM
The Pembrokeshire Against the Cull group has made public the following information from a Freedom of Information request.
"...You have requested the following information: The number of bovine TB infected cattle slaughtered in the IAA for 2009 and 2010, and The number of those cattle slaughtered which were confirmed as positive for bovine TB at post mortem examination.
Please find below the number of cattle valued for slaughter in the IAA between 2005 and 2010: Animals valued for slaughter due to TB, by year of valuation
Source: TBIS payment records for animals valued from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2010 as at mid-Jan 2011. Excludes animals with incomplete records on TBIS. It is expected that the number of animals valued in 2010 will increase as more complete records become available in subsequent data extracts. The number of these cattle slaughtered which were subsequently confirmed as positive for bovine TB at post mortem examination is not held by the Welsh Assembly Government. Further statistics specifically concerning the IAA can be found on the Welsh Assembly Government's website and formed part of the information considered by the Minister for Rural Affairs in making her recent decision to make the Badger (Control Area) (Wales) Order 2011...."
17 Apr 2011, 7:33 PM
Here we go again, the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), is set to waste thousands of pounds again with another judicial review called for from the Badger Trust (with support from the Pembrokeshire Against the Cull landowners) on the cards!
A letter before action has been sent by the Trust's solicitors, Bindmans, with a view to legal proceedings commencing in the High Court if the WAG refuses to revoke its Order to destroy badgers. The WAG proposes to kill badgers as part of its bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication programme.
In the Trust’s formal letter before action to the WAG (full text at www.badgertrust.org.uk) it sets out why it considers that the High Court should strike down the Order made on March 9th 2011 by the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones.
The Badger Trust says;'The last two years have seen a significant fall in the number of cattle slaughtered because of bTB. If badger destruction had been allowed two years ago by the last government it would have been presumed that the reason was culling rather the range of effective cattle-based measures now in force. Fortunately, in 2010, the Court of Appeal struck down the last culling proposals so we had a chance to see reduction by cattle-focussed means take effect. The number of cattle slaughtered has fallen during the last two years by 45% in Dyfed, which includes the intensive action area where badger destruction is proposed. It is our duty to pursue all legal means to protect the badger. Yet again the Trust is challenging the legality of a decision by the WAG. The members of Britain’s Badger Groups and our generous and loyal supporters look to us to secure the welfare of the badger in line with our objectives as a charity acting in the public interest'.
Pembrokeshire Against the Cull has stated; “We have been working closely with the Badger Trust and their legal team and fully support their decision to proceed with this action. We particularly welcome the inclusion of civil rights aspects which have been of great concern to our supporters. The Welsh Assembly Government appears so far to have ignored the concerns about human rights and public safety raised by so many in the consultation and has offered no justification for taking such disproportionate powers and actions. We recently started a fund specifically to support a possible legal challenge and will be working to ensure we play our part in bringing this challenge to a successful conclusion.”