Wildlife Reservoirs, is the badger a costly distraction, a scapegoat ...?
22 Jul 2010, 6:43 PM
Prof John Bourne, who conducted the infamous ten year, government-funded study which showed that badger killing is a waste of time and money, recalled what he was told by a senior politician:
"Fine, John, we accept your science, but we have to offer farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers."
This strand on the forum deals mainly with the wildlife reservoirs involved in the bovine TB saga. In the UK this is, as we are probably all aware by now, believed to be mainly the badger. No other mammal has been studied in the UK as intensely as the badger so actually we don't really know just how other animals are implicated. In other countries different species are implicated. There are some anomalies too, including the example below.
Has anyone an explanation for the following!
According to last issue of Gwlad, Australia is now bTB free after 27 years of trying. We are told it has no wildlife reservoir. New Zealand is still aiming for eradication. It has a wildlife reservoir - possums - which are considered a pest species as not indigenous so are being culled - and vaccinated!
HOWEVER - possums ARE native to Australia and bTB was rife in country for years so - why are the Australian possums not a reservoir?
17 Jul 2018, 5:49 PM
Badger Trust calls for immediate halt to badger culling in heat wave
The Badger Trust has written to Natural England calling for an immediate halt to the badger culls across England due to the heat wave.
The severe and prolonged hot weather which is leading to record breaking temperatures across many parts of the country is having a devastating impact on badgers. Multiple reports are being received by the Badger Trust, RSPCA and wildlife rescue centres across the country of badger cubs being severely underweight and subject to heat exposure and exhaustion due to lack of water.
Badgers rely on worms and insects for the bulk of their diet, but as a result of the heat wave, the ground is now so hard in many parts of the country that it is becoming impossible for them to feed.
The situation is being made worse as a result of the expansion of the badger cull policy, which is now allowing badgers to be killed in 21 areas of England, with a further 10 cull licences being considered for approval by Natural England by the end of August.
This could result in over 50,000 badgers being killed by the end of 2018, at a time when their numbers have already been devastated by the summer heat wave. Many of the badgers to be killed this summer will be trapped in cages in extremely hot temperatures and left for up to 12 hours with no access to water, which is extremely cruel.
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said:
"As a result of the devastating heat wave and huge expansion of culling, badgers are now facing a catastrophic decline, which could result in local extinction from areas of the country which they have inhabited since the Ice Age. As we learned from the Judicial Review case against the badger cull policy in the High Court last week, the Government's badger population estimates are unacceptably vague and take no account of the impact of the current prolonged high temperatures.
Many of the badger cubs born this year and older badgers will not be able to make up sufficient body weight to survive the oncoming of winter. Taking this into account there can be no justification for allowing the continuation of badger culling in the heat wave, which could deplete their populations to such a level that the UK ends up in breach of its commitments under the Berne Convention.” Tris Pearce an ecologist and Board Member of the Badger Trust said:
"Under their best practice guidelines for badger trapping, Natural England state that operators have a legal responsibility under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 not to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal under the control of man and that the trapping of wild badgers should be suspended due to exposure to low temperatures, wind chill and heavy rain in combination.
However, no provision is made for extreme high temperatures, which could result in thousands of badgers being trapped in the current heat wave in small metal cages for up to 12 hours, with minimal food and no access to water. We received reports of badger cages being found in the West Gloucestershire badger control area on 11th July, with temperatures in that region reaching 29 degrees centigrade.
With the Environment Agency stating last week that it will take many weeks of persistent rainfall to attempt to recover what the dry period has caused, Natural England should revoke all badger control licences during the heatwave on animal welfare grounds."
16 Jul 2018, 6:32 PM
This blog is well worth reading. Some revealing facts about Natural England.
Badger Trust calls for an immediate halt to badger killing in Wales WAG wastes over £76,000 per badger on failed TB test and cull policy.
The Welsh Labour Government has released a report which reviews the outcome of localised badger culling on three farms in Wales between August and November 2017, in an attempt to lower bovine TB in cattle herds with chronic TB breakdowns.
Across the three farms, badgers were trapped and tested for TB using a sett side blood test and were killed if they tested positive for the disease. In total only five badgers tested positive for TB using the sett side test. However, when the blood test was repeated in the laboratory after they were killed and subjected to a post mortem, it was found that none tested positive on a 12 week tissue culture.
The total cost of the trapping test and removal policy including staff costs, equipment, field surveys, hair trapping, cage trapping, sett side blood tests and post mortems was £383,212 or a staggering £76,662 for each badger killed.
Giving his reaction to the results of the badger test and removal trial Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said:
"These results show the huge failure of the badger trap, test and removal policy on scientific effectiveness, cost and animal welfare grounds. This sends out a very clear signal to the farming and livestock veterinary industry in Wales, that any form of badger culling is a hugely costly distraction from dealing with the key causes of the spread of bovine TB in the cattle industry.
As the Badger Trust has stated to the Welsh Chief Vet Christianne Glossop on repeated occasions, there can be no justification for killing badgers in an attempt to lower bovine TB in cattle. After the disastrous results of this research project, the Welsh Government must bring an immediate halt to any further killing of badgers and return to its previous badger vaccination policy, that has significant public support and is a far more cost effective and humane means of reducing the spread of bovine TB in the badger population, as a result of industrial pollution from the intensive livestock industry."
Reacting to the release of the report, anti badger cull supporters in Wales stated:
"The Welsh Government have spent £383,000 on killing five healthy badgers. None proved positive for TB at post mortem. Leading ecologist Professor Rosie Woodroffe has described the test used on the trapped badgers as "a rubbish test."
This report reveals that the policy is a shockingly costly failure and is yet more evidence that badgers are not to blame. Instead of spending time, money and resources on killing badgers, the Government should concentrate on clearing out the reservoir of infection in the cattle herds. Introducing accurate actiphage testing should be the urgent priority, alongside controlling slurry pollution and other mechanisms which spread infection among cattle and out into the environment"
The report by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on the delivery of badger trap and test operations on chronic TB breakdown farms in Wales reveals that badgers cannot be the cause of bTB in the areas involved.
We understand the exercise cost some £400,000 - 5 healthy badgers killed and none found to have TB, so £80,000 each. Sets some kind of record.....This is really appalling - what a waste of tax payers' money.
The slaughtered badgers were tested using tissue culture (supposed to be the gold standard for bTB diagnosis confirmation) ....
Tom Langton, an ecology consultant and member of the Badger Trust, is asking the court to quash both the Government’s policy and the licences issued under it by Natural England – arguing they are “unlawful”.
Mr Langton claims there is not enough scientific support for extending the culling and says the Government has not considered the ecological impact on widespread badger removal from the countryside. Sorry, this content isn't available on your device. He said: “This case is an important fight not just for the badger but also for the future of our countryside and the farming industry.
“The badger cull policy is failing farmers, taxpayers and our precious wildlife and will make the bovine TB epidemic worse.
“All will continue to suffer unless we can focus the necessary expertise and resources on proven cattle-based measures to reduce the spread of bovine TB in the national herd, which may again be heading for destruction.”
Measures to reduce bovine TB were introduced in 2011 and included the granting of licences to shoot badgers, which can act as a “reservoir” for the disease and transmit it to cattle.
But Mr Langton’s lawyers told the court on Monday that the guidance issued last year was a “significant departure” from the Government’s previous policy on culling.
His barrister Richard Turney said: “It is aimed at maintaining rather than reducing the badger population, and it effectively enables lower-intensity culling to be continued over a significantly longer period than previously envisaged.
“It is to continue for five-year periods regardless of its efficacy – indeed, it will only be reviewed if the incidence of bovine TB ‘drops significantly’.”
Since the guidelines were issued, Natural England has issued licences for “supplementary culling” in Somerset and Gloucestershire and new licences for culling have been granted for parts of Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire – although the exact locations of the cull zones are not known.
Mr Turney told the court that a 2007 report following a series of badger culling trials concluded that culling could not “meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB in Britain”.
He also said badger culling is a “scientifically, politically and morally controversial” means of preventing the spread of bovine TB – which can also be transmitted through other animals and is mainly passed between cattle.
He added: “Even the destruction of the entire badger population would not eliminate the disease, since it is not just badgers that are capable of transmitting it.”
The Government and Natural England are contesting the case, which will be heard over three days.
Mr Justice Cranston is expected to give his ruling at a later date.
Government Ministers Gove & Leadsom on trial over decision to approve biggest slaughter of a protected species in living memory.
The Battle for Badgers returns to the High Court on Monday 9th July as Ecologist and Badger Trust member Tom Langton challenges aspects of the hugely controversial badger cull policy, supported by The Badger Trust. The Badger Trust is also a part of The Badger Crowd; a fundraising and support coalition including Badger Groups and the public via crowdfunding appeals.
Over 30,000 badgers have been killed as a result of the badger cull policy since 2013 at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of over £50 million or £1,100 per badger.
Despite having no reliable evidence to prove local massacres of 70% of badgers can have any visible impact in lowering bovine TB in cattle, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove is preparing a further expansion of the badger killing zones this summer. This could result in around 120,000 badgers to be gunned down by 2020 and up to 500,000 by 2038, if culling is not curtailed.
Incompetence, negligence and deceit will be alleged at the heart of the policy making process in Defra and Downing Street. The High Court will hear that the Environment Secretaries Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove and ultimately the Prime Minister Theresa May, approved open ended supplementary badger cull licences without any scientific justification, proper consultation or adequate environmental assessments. This has lead to badgers being killed in sensitive wildlife habitats without essential precautionary measures required under EU and British habitat protection regulations and legislation.
Speaking in advance of the High Court hearing the CEO of the Badger Trust Dominic Dyer said;
"The Government has no credibility left when it comes to the disastrous badger cull policy. The High Court will hear evidence that Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove lacked proper scientific evidence and overstepped their positions of power and influence in Defra to push forward a major expansion of the badger cull policy to appease the farming and shooting lobby, despite growing evidence the mass slaughter of badgers since 2013 has been cruel, hugely costly and without any visible benefit.
The Prime Minister must also bear responsibility for playing politics with wildlife and allowing the mass destruction of badgers that in our view contravenes the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This could result in precious wildlife habitats of international importance being threatened in the drive to kill more badgers, to fulfill political promises to the industrial farming lobby. Tom Langton will bring evidence that the proper processes were not followed to reach the decision to expand the cull and this means the Government is in breach of both British and European laws.
As a result of these actions, badgers are being pushed to the verge of extinction in areas of the country that they have inhabited since the Ice Age. The Government has to stop playing the badger blame game and focus on tackling bovine TB at its source via better testing, movement controls and new quarantine measures”
Ecologist and Badger Trust member Tom Langton, who is taking the case against the Government, said;
"Senior government officials have operated in a manner that we believe is unlawful when it comes to bovine TB control policy and procedures.
The Government have moved from attempting a precision badger removal policy to an open ended badger eradication approach that has no scientific validity and that independent experts believe could easily do more harm than good.
Further, no serious efforts have been made to consider the ecological impact of widespread badger removal from the countryside, particularly in relation to the impact of predator changes on sensitive wildlife habitats and species including rare birds.
This case is an important fight not just for the badger but also for the future of our countryside and the farming industry.
The badger cull policy is failing farmers, tax payers and our precious wildlife and will make the bovine TB epidemic worse. All will continue to suffer unless we can focus the necessary expertise and resources on proven cattle based measures to reduce the spread of bovine TB in the national herd, which may again be heading for destruction”.
The Judicial Review involves two legal challenges.
The first challenge concerns failures by Natural England to carry out the mandatory Habitats Regulations Assessments correctly for the badger cull.
The second challenge relates to the decision by Defra to allow supplementary culling licences after four years of culling have been completed, which wrongly interprets the conclusion of the Randomised Badger Culling Trial.
Supplementary cull figures published as of today (6th July 2018): Area 1 Gloucestershire 172, Area 2 Somerset 91. In Area 2 the minimum target was not achieved. Click here to read the full report.
Both legal challenges will be heard in the High Court from Monday 9th July to Thursday 12th July by Mr Justice Ross Cranston.
6 Jul 2018, 12:07 PM
News update for The Badger Crowd from Tom Langton, 6th July 2018
Dear Badger Crowd,
We are now just days away from the start of our four day hearing in the High Court where we will be challenging various aspects of Government policy implementation regarding the culling of Badgers to help eradicate bovine TB in cattle.
Without your support and donations this would have not been possible. From Sophie who donated £3.00 saying sorry this was all she could afford to the hundreds of individuals, Badger groups and Charities who have donated hundreds and in some cases thousands of pounds, all have been vital to enable this opportunity to seek justice for badgers and the wider environment.
The government is seeking to further increase badger culling in England on an industrial scale. Badgers have been removed from woods, banks and meadows in a growing series of brutal bloody countryside purges and now the plan is to cull over the whole of England. If they get their way, hundreds of thousands of healthy badgers will be slaughtered over the next 20 years, financed by our taxes, based upon dubious science, misinformation, inadequate cattle testing and movement control and unsustainable economic plans.
Following many months of dedicated voluntary work from a wide range of expertise we are now prepared to challenge Government in The High Court to bring justice for badgers. We hope for an outcome in August 2018. During the last two weeks the @badgercrowd twitter account has been used to message the Badger Crowd and a wider audience. We will continue throughout the hearing with updates direct from the High Court.
Future potential legal challenges are on the horizon and challenges to the May 2018 Government Policy update, which includes targeted reactive culling in the Low Risk Areas are underway.
Heartfelt thanks go out to The Badger Crowd who care about badgers and who recognise they are our environmental heritage, the destruction of which serves no meaningful purpose.
Tom Langton and his support group.
To keep abreast with all the latest news, follow the Crowd on Twitter@Badger Crowd
The BBC Wildlife magazine July edition has just been published and features a four page spread on the issues surrounding our case. Buy from Newsagents or find online.
BBC Wildlife Magazine Two judicial reviews relating to the badger cull are due to be heard mid July 2018. Natural England is being questioned regarding the processes this public body followed in relation to the current culling. For a full and detailed article visit:
Figures released by Stop the Cull reveal that the 2017 badger culls are the most expensive ever - with Police costs alone at a record high of £3.861 million pounds
The UK taxpayer has funded the badger culls over the last five years at a cost of around £27 million pounds - a staggering amount of money - but, the Government haven’t mentioned that policing cost have added a further £13 million pounds - money that could have employed over 1500 new Nurses in the NHS, or 1650 new Police Officers or vaccinated around 60,000 badgers - almost double the number that has been culled to date.
the Government is being incredibly naive if they think the Police can maintain normal responses and costs when the Government has licensed armed marksmen to free shoot badgers in the countryside - after dark - without any notice of when the culling starts - or where it could be taking place! The Police have a duty to respond to the legitimate concerns of the public.
Save Me Trust has never believed that culling Badgers would have any benefit to farmers or cattle. Bovine TB lies latent and undetected by the current tests within the herd. We have supported a project at an intensive dairy farm in the South West that had been under restrictions for many years. With the expertise of Veterinarian Dick Sibley and the use of the latest testing, the farm has reached OFT (Officially TB free) status without killing any badgers or other wildlife.
Dr Brian May said: “We are spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on something which is never going to work. So let’s change and do something new. History will show that this whole sorry business – the tragedy of Bovine TB – was entirely due to infectious cows being undetected by the pitifully inadequate TB test and re-infecting the herd, causing multiple breakdowns”.
Anne Brummer CEO of Save Me Trust said: “Its time to face the truth - Badger culling has not worked on any level - We have seen over 30,000 badgers killed, many of them taking more than 5 minutes to die - we’ve seen perturbation as farms on the edge of cull zones break down - and now the costs of Policing this pointless badger cull have spiralled out of all control”.
27 May 2018, 10:51 AM
... and yet more cost of this senseless cull to the taxpayer (inn addition to policing etc costs) - farmers will be allowed to kill badgers across England with a bounty of up to £50 for each corpse after the government decided to extend its controversial culling programme to most of the country. The cull is inhumane, ineffective and costly.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary, published new guidance last week allowing badgers to be culled even in areas deemed to be at low risk for the spread of bovine TB (bTB), the disease that farmers blame badgers for helping to spread.
Gove already permits badger culling in 21 “high-risk” areas of England where the disease is endemic, mostly in the southwest. Under the new scheme, culling will also be allowed in “low-risk” areas, which would cover most of the country, wherever there was an outbreak of bTB.
Culling is licensed by Natural England and carried out by qualified shooters who get up to £50 per dead animal. Farmers will now be eligible to apply for licences. Last year, more than 19,200 badgers were killed.
Dominic Dyer, head of the Badger Trust, said: “Gove is embarking on the most expensive and widespread slaughter of a protected species in memory. By 2020, 100,000 badgers will have been slaughtered across England and Wales at a cost to taxpayers of £100m.”
IS THE TORY GOVERNMENT HOPING -TO WIPE OUT BADGERS FROM THE UK? Just as Ministers set off for their summer break we hear that many more badgers are scheduled to be slaughtered.
Creatures now in low-risk areas face being blasted by marksmen as the Tories step-up their campaign against Brock.
Opponents accused the Conservatives of waging a “blame game” over bovine TB, with badgers alleged to be infecting cattle across the countryside.
Seven months ago, Environment Secretary Michael Gove cheered animal rights activists by agreeing to launch a review into the science behind the cull.
But Farming Minister George Eustice slipped out a written statement on the last day before Parliament’s half-term recess revealing a fresh plot to kill the animals in low-risk areas if they are linked to a bovine TB outbreak.
He said: “I am announcing my intention to enable badger control measures in the LRA in the rare event that disease in badgers is linked with infected herds."
Queen guitarist Brian May has campaigned against the badger cull and set-up a charity, the Save Me Trust to protect wild animals.
In a statement, it said it was “saddened” by the latest announcement.
Dear Rethink Btb Following the three recently ended "Consultations" of additional badger culls in at least eight new Edge areas, it is more than likely that Michael Gove , DEFRA, and Natural England will announce a cull of towards 30,000 badgers this year from 29 cull areas. Warmest congratulations to the political wing of DEFRA, these consultations are a very clever exercise in mis-direction and optical delusion. Very clever to re-launch the BEVS or Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, with modest grants. A brilliant smokescreen, which has fooled shadow Farming Minister David Drew, senior NFU folk such as Minette Batters, and Brian May /Save Me, plus Wildlife, and National Trusts.. into imagining that they are "doing something, using all the tools in the box" about the non-existent badger problem. It is clear even from the Consultation there is no background TB in either badgers, or cattle in these areas outside the hotspot HRA High Risk Area, so why on earth cull or vaccinate the perfectly healthy badgers. Clearly the scatter of new herd breakdowns are via bought-in cattle. So following the DEFRA 2015 Consultation, from April 2016 there was very sensibly pre- and post-movement cattle testing , which stops the spread of TB cattle into Edge/LRA areas.
In fact neither the cull of c. 40,000 Badgers so far, 2013-2017 , or the 11,000 badgers in the RBCT Randomised Badger Cull Trial had the slightest effect on this spread of cattle TB by cattle. The APHA 2017 Report https://www.gov.uk/…/643492/badger-control-third-year-analy… found just 46 spillover TB badgers in an 861 sample from 9 Pilot cull areas, and a mere 1515 Dead-end spillover brocks from 1900 sq.km. in the RBCT. The only ray of light on the horizon is if Ben Goldsmith, newly within DEFRA, and keen on lynx re-introductions !, realises that the traditional scapebrock cull policy is based on fake science, and advises Mr Gove accordingly. Culls simply do not work, are a total waste of time and money, and so are actually illegal under the 1992 Badgers Act. With two costly legal challenges to be heard in July, money which would be far better spent using the new IDDEX Ab and PHAGE/RPA (Actiphage) tests which could speedily clear Chronic herds of TB, as in the recent Gatcombe Devon herd by Vet Dick Sibley.
Martin Hancox, ex-government TB Panel.
10 May 2018, 12:40 PM
Government faces fresh legal challenges over badger cull extension
Fresh legal challenges to the government’s badger cull will be heard at the High Court this summer.
Defra executive agency and culling licensee Natural England is facing two legal challenges in July over its decision to extend the culls, which are part of the government’s 25-year bovine TB eradication programme.
The legal action is being led by Tom Langton, an ecologist with a long-standing interest in wildlife disease and nature conservation.
Mr Langton’s legal challenge is being financed through crowdfunding and he is also supported by the Badger Trust, the Born Free Foundation, 20 badger groups around the country, and private individuals.
The first judicial review relates to the five-year supplementary culling licences issued to west Somerset and west Gloucestershire by Natural England.
The claimants question the way consultation was carried out in 2016-17 in relation to the 2011 badger culling policy and its science.
In numbers: bovine TB and the badger cull
40,000+ TB-infected cattle were slaughtered in the UK in 2017 19,274 badgers were culled across 21 areas last year Nine new areas have applied for licences to cull badgers in 2018 £100m annual bill to taxpayer from cost of bovine TB The second judicial review relates to the 2017 badger culling licences for five of 11 areas where culling was introduced that year, on the grounds that assessments of the ecological effect of culling more than 70% of the badger population “were not done correctly”.
High Court hearing Both legal challenges will be joined and heard by the same judge at the High Court in London from 9 to 11 July.
Mr Langton told Farmers Weekly: “There are a lot of animals in decline or rare species in the countryside and it doesn’t take much to change their habitats before their fate is changed.
“This is not really anything to do with TB, it’s really to do with how Natural England and Defra have handled the consultations.
“It’s about getting proper safeguards for the environment and making sure that the right decisions are made. We don’t believe Natural England has gone through this whole process properly.”
A third challenge to the 2016 badger cull impact assessments is being “worked up”, anti-cull campaigners say.
If the legal challenge succeeds, it could result in some of the licences being quashed.
Government response A Defra spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment on the particulars of the case while a legal matter is ongoing.
We used to defend evidence, now we're defending a lack of evidence. Vets criticise government on TB proposals
Vets are concerned that the government has not carefully thought through its proposals on controlling bovine TB.
They fear recent proposals to extend badger culling have been rushed through, lack an evidence base and mean culls are increasingly led by industry rather than government.
They also worry that the long-held ambition to eradicate bovine TB is being confused by a new – and unrealistic – ambition to eradicate the disease in wildlife too.
The issue was discussed at last week’s BVA Council meeting, as the association published its response to two government consultations – one on removing restrictions on culling licenses and one on extending badger culling in the area of the country where bovine TB is low risk. This would provide an option to commence culling should hot spots of infectivity occur.
Nearly 1,300 incidents involving wildlife were recorded in 2016 alone, a report has found.
The actual number of incidents is also likely to be "far greater" as the Home Office currently categorises many of the crimes as miscellaneous.
In 2016, there were 612 reports of incidents against badgers, 145 involving bats, 366 regarding marine mammals and 155 with birds of prey across England and Wales - 1,278 in total.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, said: "There is a correlation between the cull and wildlife crime in general and the numbers provided in the report are just the tip of the iceberg.
"The problem around the country is that people feel that they can use the badger cull as a legitimate excuse to commit wildlife crimes and take the law into their own hands.
"We have a growing problem with animals, particularly badgers and birds, being shot and there is growing concern that it is getting out of control."
17 Apr 2018, 12:03 PM
If the government's proposals go ahead, It would seem they are intent on removing badgers from the UK. This would be devastating.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the decision to (a) extend the badger cull in low risk areas and (b) remove the ten area cap limit on badger culling will be made after the conclusion of Sir Charles Godfray's review into the TB strategy.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Any decision to extend the badger cull to the Low Risk Area of England and remove the annual ten area limit on badger culling will be made separately to the TB strategy review. The decision will be made following the conclusion and analysis of responses from the current consultations, alongside relevant scientific evidence and veterinary advice.
The review, led by Sir Charles Godfray, will reflect on progress to date with the broad range of interventions to fight the disease outlined in the 25 year TB strategy. It will consider what additional actions might be necessary now to ensure other tools and interventions are ready to be deployed in later phases of the strategy, in order to ensure the Government maintains progress towards its target of becoming officially TB free by 2038. The review is expected to conclude by September 2018.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the evidential basis is for the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing TB in cattle in low risk areas.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The evidential basis for the effectiveness of badger culling in the Low Risk Area, where infection in cattle is linked to infection in badgers, is the same as in the High Risk Area - that is, the randomised badger control trial.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of extending badger culling on local ecosystems; and whether an extension is in compliance with the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The effect of badger culling on local ecosystems is considered by Natural England as part of its licensing of the companies responsible for carrying out culling operations. Where appropriate, Natural England imposes conditions on licences so as to protect wildlife or habitats within and around the culling areas.
When determining the appropriate operation in any particular area, responsibilities under the Bern Convention are taken into account.
15 Apr 2018, 5:36 PM
Comment from Martin Hancox, email 6 April 2018
BADGER POLITICS :- A SURREAL FINAL END TO THE GREAT BADGERS & BOVINE TB DEBATE : 2 VERY COSTLY MISTAKES Dear Michael Gove, George Eustice, Lesley Griffiths, Michael Creed, Michelle McIlveen,
Badgers are still widely blamed for being "The main cause of the spread of cattle/ bovine TB", But, cognitive dissonance, the very few and only badgers with TB, have just caught it from the preceding cattle herd breakdown, and are dead-end spillover hosts, which by definition are never going to be infectious enough to pass TB back to cows. So there is absolutely not point in culling or vaccinating them ! So, alas, egg on very red faces , when your "scientific advisers" wake up over 2 absurdly simple very costly mistakes. A. It is almost unbelievable, but the whole 47 year old "highly complex and emotive debate" on badgers and TB hinges on the twin mistaken beliefs that :-
1. there is a widespread self-sustaining reservoir of badger TB "out there" , and 2. that it was generating the scatter of new herd breakdowns... but even at Woodchester Park in map below, badger TB actually occurs as a very temporary spillover from cows to a dead-end transient host micro-pocket, which never becomes infectious enough to pass TB back to cows, so TB dies out quite rapidly if not topped up from cattle !
B. And tragically, this mistake was perpetuated in the mistaken Interpretation of the RBCT Randomised Badger Culling Trial that the cull halved cattle TB. A mere 1515 TB badgers out of 11,000 culled merely dead-end spillovers. The MAFF Magician's three Optical Delusions ; 3 Spectacularly illogical epidemiological absurdities !!
15 Apr 2018, 5:19 PM
Rapid dissemination of Mycobacterium bovis from cattle dung to soil by the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. - PubMed - NCBI
Interesting - rarely gets a mention. Draw your own conclusions, of which there are many.
West Sussex vet Maarten Boers claims “irresponsible” farmers are spreading bovine TB among cattle in the county.
Farmers are quick to blame the badger for this,” said Mr Boers, one of two directors of The Livestock Partnership based in Petworth, West Sussex. “But the problem lies with the farming community more than they like to think.”
After years of only a few cases in West Sussex, the last few weeks and months have seen a flurry of cases, Mr Boers said. About 10 cattle farms across the county are now infected with bovine TB
West Sussex is supposed to be a low risk for the disease, and Hampshire next door is meant to be an “edge area” buffer zone against bovine TB spreading from the West Country, a high risk area. Part of East Sussex is the only exception which has the disease in the low risk area east of Hampshire and West Sussex.
By spoligotyping – which is DNA finger printing the strains of bovine TB – it is possible to tell where the disease comes from. “DNA finger printing the recent cases has been pointing to the West Country as the source for West Sussex,” Mr Boers said.
He deals with a lot of dairy farms in West Sussex, and nearly all are closed herds which breed their own replacements. At this time of year, said Mr Boers, beef farmers and finishers need more animals to graze ground. They contact local dealers, who organise the transport of store cattle from the West Country markets at Salisbury, Exeter and Frome to be finished in West Sussex.
Those defending the trade argue that the animals leaving the West Country will have been compulsorily tested for TB. “But the test is only about 70% effective, so some animals are bound to get through.” In addition, infection could be spread in other ways – on the wheel arches of livestock lorries or on wellington boots, said Mr Boers.
The culprits can be counted on the fingers of one hand, added Mr Boers. “I cannot disclose their names because I have a professional code of conduct which does not let me reveal customers’ details.” He has approached the NFU and DEFRA vets to try to find a solution to the West Country trade. “But the vets say it is not the job of civil servants to make policy and the NFU says it does not want to hinder members’ trade. But the NFU can lobby politicians to stop this. The trouble is that the few doing the trade are threatening the livelihoods of many more.”
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has written to the Government to voice his support for “vaccination over culling” in the prevention of tuberculosis (TB) in badgers. The Commissioner expressed his concerns about the shooting of badgers in the Derbyshire countryside in a letter to the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It follows the Government’s announcement that badgers may be culled in eight new counties in England – including Derbyshire - as part of its strategy to control the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
Bovine TB is a disease affecting cattle and is predominantly spread by cattle. Wildlife experts say the development of a cattle vaccination and tough restrictions on the movement of cattle will successfully stop the spread of the disease. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been leading the way in the vaccination of badgers, undertaking the largest-ever vaccination programme in the country involving more than 100 volunteers. This year alone, the Trust received £190,000 in government funding to further expand its programme to almost 90sq km.
The Trust said applications to shoot badgers by landowners in Derbyshire have already been received by the Government and strongly opposes such action. Mr Dhindsa said: “Derbyshire is at the forefront of a vaccination programme to limit the spread of this disease and there are no grounds, either scientifically or economically, to cull badgers.
“Badgers are a protected species under the 1992 Badger Protection Act and evidence shows that shooting badgers is not a viable solution to the spread of bovine TB. If this is the case, then it doesn’t make sense to pursue an expensive culling programme at the cost of the taxpayer.
“I am urging the Government to reconsider its position and to continue to invest in the vaccination programme in this county and beyond to protect what remains a threatened species for future generations.”
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust says research has shown bovine TB is not transmitted by direct contact between cattle and badgers but through contaminated pasture and dung. It says culling badgers is unjustified and costly and that vaccination remains the only answer.
It costs approximately £80 to vaccinate a badger which is far less than the reported £6,000 it costs to shoot one. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is also concern
Spent my career controlling livestock disease. Eradication of the bTB organism is impossible in the UK. The public health risk is under control - and has been since around c.1960. Why waste £millions and kill our native wildlife on a hopeless cause.
10 Mar 2018, 12:10 PM
Speaking on the current proposals to extend badger culling to many other areas of England, George Bennett, who runs Sandy Lane Farm near Blackbird Leys, Oxford, with his wife Kate, said he knew dairy farmers hit by 'devastating' TB, but said he still had not seen conclusive evidence that killing badgers would help tackle the disease.
He said: "The spread of TB does not affect us because we don't have cattle, but I think the badger cull is unnecessary.
"Everything I have heard about badger culling has been inconclusive.
"The way we managed pests and diseases is having a balance ecosystem, and if you take any one species out of the ecosystem then something will get out of control."
In 2017, a total of 19,274 badgers were culled across eight counties.
See the consultation online at consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-england/8899f8e7
As Tories set to roll out futile, needless cruel and expensive badger cull to even more areas, there are concerns there will be local extinction of our iconic mammal.
In the three months running up to December 2017, over 20,000 of our largest native omnivores have fallen foul of the Tory piecemeal cull – a band aid move to appease the National Farmers Union in the fight to combat bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
In the three months running up to December 2017, over 20,000 of our largest native omnivores have fallen foul of the Tory piecemeal cull – a band aid move to appease the National Farmers Union in the fight to combat bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Badger cull protestors gathered outside Defra in London this week.
The environmental impact of what could now very easily become local extinction is devastating. Known as trophic cascade, it catalogues the impact of the removal of just one species on the surrounding environment. In the case of badgers, that number of negatively impacted British species is estimated to be 20,000. If we lose our badgers, the British countryside will be forever adversely affected, and the stain on this government will be a long-lasting legacy.
Michael Gove accused of betrayal over badger cull review
Having promised to review the government’s controversial badger cull policy on being appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment last year, the government has finally announced a review  of it’s TB eradication strategy that specifically excludes any examination of badger culling.
“This is political mendacity at its very worst,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin. “Not only has Michael Gove gone back on his word on badger culling but the scope of the review  states that it will not look at the rationale for any past interventions and will be ‘prospective’ as opposed to ‘retrospective’. It is therefore hard to see how this can even be described as a ‘review’ as that would necessarily entail an examination of past performance.”
The Badger Trust will by holding a peaceful protest outside the Headquarters of Defra at 17 Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3JR on Thursday 22nd February between 12 and 2pm.
The protest will call on the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to include the badger cull as a key part of the bovine TB policy review to be undertaken by Professor Charles Godfray and to withdraw any plans to extend the badger cull into Low Risk TB areas of England.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, who will speak at the protest said:
“We believe the government and farming industry are on a mission to eradicate badgers from all areas of the country based on nothing more than anecdote and opinion, which defies all scientific and expert advice. To extend badger culling into low risk TB areas will effectively remove all protection from badgers on farmland in England. Michael Gove has proved he is prepared to betray not only his own words but also the principles of governing for the public good and that of our environment for which he has been given responsibility”
“He has already signed the death warrant of 20,000 badgers since taking office and is setting about the process of killing tens of thousand more, which could lead to local extinction of badgers from areas of the country where they have lived since the Ice Age. All at the behest of a powerful farming and landowning lobby that supports his government”.
Peter Martin, Chair of the Badger Trust, who will also speak at the protest said:
“Michael Gove is simply caving into pressure from the farming lobby who have publicly stated that any review of culling would put them in an extremely difficult position. The reason for this is that there is no conclusive evidence of how - or even if - badgers infect cattle with TB to any meaningful extent. Add to this the fact that there is no evidence that five years of culling has had any effect on levels of TB in cattle and you can see why they are scared of a review.”
“We put this to Michael Gove at a meeting in his office before Christmas when he asked why we thought that culling was taking place. We told him it was mostly because the farming lobby is using badgers to deflect attention away from their own serious shortcomings in handling TB but also because no government minister had ever had the courage to stand up to them and tell them the hard scientific facts.”
“This was a deliberate challenge to Michael Gove, we wanted to see if all his public posturing over the environment and animal welfare had any substance. Well now we know.”
Tom Langton, who has successfully taken Natural England to court over their failure to release the Ecological Impact Assessment for the badger cull, will also speak at the protest.
For details on the protest contact Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust on 07876 596233