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?
29 Apr 2014, 9:24 AM
Britain's vets - it's time to oppose the badger cull!, writes Lesley Docksey in the Ecologist yesterday. She asks, 'why does the British Veterinary Association (BVA) support England's badger cull - when all the science is telling them it's both cruel, and ineffective against Bovine TB?'www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2373272/britains_vets_its_time_to_oppose_the_badger_cull.html
24 Apr 2014, 6:09 PM
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has voiced concerns over the humaneness and effectiveness of the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset.
Environment Minister Owen Paterson announced earlier this month the cull will not be rolled out across the country, but is set to carry on in both south west counties this summer.
The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) finding showed the pilot culls last year had failed to meet the criteria for effectiveness, and the method of controlled shooting did not meet humaneness standards.
The BVA, which had previously support the Government’s pilot cull last year, has now insisted they can only support further culling if steps are taken to implement the IEP’s recommendations.
BVA president Robin Hargreaves confirmed they will seek further dialogue with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) before this year’s operations.
Mark Jones, vet and executive director of the Humane Society UK, joined campaigners last year in the Gloucestershire cull zones. The Stroud resident said: “As a vet myself who has long been disappointed by the BVA’s support for the badger cull, I am heartened to see the BVA recognising concerns about the humaneness and effectiveness of the recent pilot culls, and adopting a precautionary position.“The government must surely now abandon an plans to continue culling badgers.
“The BVA should have gone further by making it clear it will no support any future culling of badgers.
“Vets have a vital role to play in efforts to reduce the scourge of TB in cattle.
“It’s high time the profession accepted that culling badgers is nothing but a distraction which results in huge animal suffering while contributing nothing to TB control.”
Comment from Dr Martin Hancox who has been involved in researching the subject of bovine Tb and badgers for many years.(www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/WMN-Letters-Cull-vaccines-waste-money/story-20993561-detail/story.html)
The Princess Royal reckons we should eat horses and that gassing badgers is the “kindest way to cull them”! Pity she does not know what she is talking about. The Zuckerman 1980 review found even power gassing did not reach lethal concentrations in diffuse setts. While badgers are supposed to quietly go to sleep... a few prosecutions over digging/stopping of setts found badgers clustered at the bunged-up entrance so they probably died of heart attacks trying frantically to dig themselves out.
Pauline Kidner, of Secret World Wildlife Rescue, is absolutely right to conclude (“Bovine TB is decreasing”, WMN letters, April 1), that the pilot badger culls were a total waste of money.
As noted in the very silly debate in Parliament on March 13, the cull was only about 50% of estimated badgers, ie, 1,861 out of 4-6,000 population. Of which only about 200 had TB and only a dozen or so likely to be infectious to other badgers or cows. Cost: about £7 million with extra policing.
The £50 million cull of 11,000 badgers had no effect on cattle TB since 85% of the cattle breakdowns supposedly due to badgers were in fact caused by unconfirmed early cattle TB reactors.
It is very tiresome that everyone is still pushing badger vaccines instead. Professor Donnelly, of Imperial College, recently stated vaccinating about 5,000 badgers has had no effect on cattle. Chief Vet Dr Glossop in Wales also noted cattle TB down by 3,000 reactors from 9,000 in last year, but due to annual testing, nothing to do with vaccinating a few badgers in the study area.
Tragic that the cattle vaccine with DIVA test to distinguish TB from vaccinated cows has been available nearly 15 years.
Defra VLA vets got it wrong with trials abroad, so all to do again, taking another ten years. We should simply go ahead with whole county trials on the clear understanding any trial herds would not be eligible for export. by M Hancox Stroud
17 Apr 2014, 12:12 PM
Last year (www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=17931) Professor Peter Atkins, from the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience said badger culling will not solve the problem of tuberculosis in cattle. He investigated the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) and believes that rolling out this approach across the country would be simplistic
“Bovine TB has been around for several hundred years and appears to have become more prevalent here in the UK because of the intensive cattle breeding and farming from the 18th century onwards. It is an airborne infection generally, so if cattle were confined without much ventilation, the disease inevitably spreads. We think the peak of bTB probably was in the middle or late 19th century, with perhaps as much as 80 percent of cattle then infected in some counties.”
After World War II, bTB fell dramatically because of a policy of slaughtering all cattle that tested positive and most herds were free of the condition by 1960.
Professor Atkins continued: “It is very probable that other animals did and do carry TB including badgers and deer, but cattle-to-cattle transfer is likely also to be an important factor.
Interestingly he advised that only one out of nearly 400 badgers killed in road accidents in Cheshire over two decades tested for the disease turned out to be positive. This goes against received wisdom that some badger communities could have been infected for decades after the disease was cleared from cattle in 1960. It is no wonder the Coalition Government refused to test any of the badgers culled in Gloucestershire and Somerset as common sense tells us there would be very few found to be diseased ...
15 Apr 2014, 6:49 PM
The Ecologist (www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2359151/how_wales_is_defeating_bovine_tb_without_killing_badgers.html) has outlined 'how Wales is defeating bovine TB without killing badgers'.
Jan Bayley explains how Wales's combination of frequent testing and exacting biosecurity has succeeded - and how England can learn from Wales's experience.
In Wales the number of cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB has nearly halved in just 4 years, from 11,671 in 2009 down to 6,102 in 2013.
This major decline of 48% since 2009, in the number of cattle slaughtered per year, has been achieved using solely cattle based measures.
Wales has not culled any badgers to achieve this result and the vaccination programme, introduced in 2012, has yet to take effect.
14 Apr 2014, 2:47 PM
Farmers have been “led up the garden path” on badger culling by Defra and the NFU, an expert on badgers has warned, as a call is made for MPs to re-examine the figures used to justify the policy.
Dr Chris Cheeseman, who carried out extensive research on badgers and TB at Woodchester Park, Gloucestershire, was speaking in response to a call made for MPs to investigate evidence gathered by a farming couple which they say shows the cull, to be carried out again in Gloucestershire and Somerset again this year, may have been “pushed through by Defra on a false premise”.
Dave and Gill Purser, who have run their cattle farm on the Cotswolds since the 1980s, have been at the forefront of the movement to stop the cull, a position which Mr Purser says has led them to study the policy in depth.
He continues: “The primary justification for the badger cull as put forward by the DEFRA Ministers and their advisors from the National Farmers Union (NFU) relied heavily on the basis that bovine TB is 'out of control', 'increasing year on year' and is 'spreading rapidly'.
“So the least you would expect to find is that Defra's own national bovine TB statistics support these claims. But, try as we might, we cannot make the statistics reflect the alarming picture painted by government officials.”
The latest statistics for bovine TB, released earlier this year, show a fall across the UK in every measure for 2013 when compared to 2012: new herd incidents, slaughterings, incidence rate and tests on TB-free herds. The rate of incidence fell from 4.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent, slaughters by more than 5,000 to 32,620, new herd incidents by more than 300 to 4,815 and tests on TB-free herds dropped more than 1,500 to 72,143. Longer term trends show the lowest rate of TB-free status being withdrawn for more than six years.
The Purser's call for the select committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to examine the figures follows one they made in August last year, submitted after taking legal advice, to which they received no response.
Mr Purser added 'In view of the controversy surrounding this policy and the damage being done to the once wildlife friendly reputation of farming in this country, it is essential to ensure that those instigating the killing of large numbers of badgers can justify their actions.
“We’ve written to the EFRA committee again, repeating our request for them to hold a public inquiry, invite submissions of evidence from all quarters and take steps to hold the DEFRA officials and their advisers from the National Farmers Union to account. There’s been far too much conflicting evidence to allow further culls to proceed without an official investigation into the grounds used to defend them”.
Their call has been backed by both Dr Cheeseman and Lib Dem councillor Paul Hodgkinson, who is standing as the party’s parliamentary candidate for the Cotswolds in next year’s general election.
Mr Hodgkinson, who hopes to oust Conservative MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown - a supporter of the cull - said he felt the evidence 'undermined the official line', a view he says was reinforced when Defra later announced revisions to new herd incidents since 2011.
As a result, he said: “I would urge MPs on the EFRA Committee to call an immediate inquiry and give all of the evidence presented their urgent attention".
Dr Cheeseman added: "It is heartening to know that a growing body of farmers realise that Defra and the NFU have led the farming community up the garden path on how to tackle bovine TB. This initiative will be welcomed by all those who want to see a sensible and sustainable policy adopted to address the problem. Such a policy will have to embrace robust measures to improve cattle TB testing and movement controls as a matter of urgent priority.
“It is high time the Westminster Government followed the example of the Welsh Government, where they have reduced cattle TB incidence by 48 per cent in just four years by adopting a more rigorous testing regime. Instead we are already seeing blatant attempts by the NFU and Defra to sweep the recent IEP report under the carpet. The obsession with badger culling in England has become a cynical distraction from the real issue."
In New Zealand only one bovine tuberculosis (TB) infected herd remains in Northland after the disease was cleared from six herds.The single, remaining infected herd has recently had a whole herd TB test and is also on the verge of being cleared of the disease. The six other herds were linked by stock movements made before the disease was diagnosed.
National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) data was vital in helping to rapidly trace movements of animals from the original infected herd, ensuring properties were put on a strict testing regime and any TB-infected cattle were sent to slaughter.
As a precautionary measure, contractors also trapped wild animals in the area to check for the disease in wildlife populations, particularly possums. Nearly 1400 possums had a post mortem, with no indication that the disease has spread to wildlife in Northland. It is appalling that that in the UK the Government culls badgers and does not even bother to test them for bTB.
Info from: www.farmingshow.com/industry/nait-advertorial-march-27#.U0f8xGCfQbc.twitter
14 Apr 2014, 10:00 AM
According to a recent article in Farmers Weekly (www.fwi.co.uk/articles/11/04/2014/144132/badger-trust-considers-fresh-legal-bid-to-halt-culls.htm) The Badger Trust is considering a fresh legal challenge to stop the pilot culls continuing for a second year in the South West.
Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said: “We are seeking legal advice and reviewing what legal action we can make to stop the pilot culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.We have been discussing legal action with our legal advisers. We are moving in the direction to look at this as a viable option.”
He added that the trust could make a final decision as early as next week over whether to launch a new legal challenge.
The Independent Expert Panel’s report on the pilot culls had shown that culling badgers using the methods of free shooting and cage trapping and shooting had been shown to be ineffective and humane.
Dominick Dyer said; “We are trying to engage. We want to find solutions to these problems,” he added. “We don’t want to be seen to say to farmers, ‘we don’t care about the difficulties you face. We are happy that we have not got a national cull and the government has announced badger vaccination in the edge areas and tighter cattle controls. But all this focus on culling badgers isn’t helping anyone. Everybody should be talking more about the reductions in TB outbreaks.”
He also urged the NFU to lobby the EU harder to allow the UK to host cattle vaccination field trials as soon as possible. Why isn't the NFU pushing much harder for cattle vaccination? Wales aims to have a trial of cattle vaccination in Wales in 18 months’ time’.
11 Apr 2014, 6:21 PM
DEATH OF THE GREAT BADGER TB DEBATE - revealing information indicating the badger is merely a spillover host ...; visit www.badgersandtb.com
11 Apr 2014, 2:09 PM
'Lies, damn lies, and Owen Paterson's badger cull', shouts the headline of The Ecologist today.
Paterson's speech to Parliament on the continuation of the badger cull was not so much a masterpiece of deception, writes Lesley Docksey, as a crude botch-up of errors, wrong statistics and a failure to understand the very real problem of TB in cattle.
An interesting article that is well worth reading.
A comprehensive Strategy to achieve TB free status in England by 2038 has been announced by DEFRA.
This includes continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls, a grant-funded scheme for badger vaccination projects in the ‘edge area’ at the frontier of the disease, and improvements to the four-year badger cull pilots in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Following recommendations from the Independent Expert Panel that assessed the badger cull pilots last year, a series of changes will be made to improve the effectiveness, humaneness and safety of culling.
These changes will be monitored to assess their impact before further decisions are taken on more badger cull licences next year.
Addressing bovine TB in badgers in high risk areas is just one part of a new long-term strategy to eradicate bovine TB from England. The new strategy will demonstrate the wide range of tools that can be used to achieve TB free status by 2038. This includes:
Offering grant funding for private badger vaccination projects in the edge areas aiming to increase TB immunity in uninfected badgers and reduce the spread of the disease. DEFRA will provide match-funding for successful applicants;
Continuing to strengthen cattle movement controls and testing regime to stop the disease from spreading from herd to herd;
Improving biosecurity by helping farmers understand the disease risk of cattle they buy; and
Continuing to invest in development of a new vaccine for cattle which could be field tested next year, and an oral badger vaccine which could be available for use by 2019.
Info from: www.farminglife.com/news/plans-to-eradicate-bovine-tb-in-england-by-2038-1-5992176
9 Apr 2014, 6:16 PM
All the reports of the Independent Expert Panel relating to the two trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset can be read at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/pilot-badger-culls-in-somerset-and-gloucestershire-report-by-the-independent-expert- panel
9 Apr 2014, 12:57 PM
Email from SW today drawing attention to the information on gassing at:
Badgers and TB – Does Gassing Spread the Disease? A report from 1980 based on the previous gassing of badgers in the south west.
Eunice D. Overend
For the past six years the Ministry of Agriculture has been tackling the problem of TB in badgers in a few areas in south-west England by gassing all infected sets and those in immediately adjoining territories as dangerous contact, with the expectation of eliminating all the infected badgers. The author points out that because TB is a stress disease, and because it is impossible to gas every badger in a group simultaneously, gassing may be driving infected individual badgers to join other groups and infect them, thus actually spreading the disease.
The following letter has been sent via email to the BBC from the Bager Trust with a recorded delivery hard copy to the Director General of the BBC yesterday:
Dear Lord Hill
BBC Countryfile Interview Princess Anne : Badger Gassing
I am writing to you in my capacity as CEO of Badger Trust, the charity which promotes the conservation and welfare of badgers, and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild International, a leading UK and International wildlife protection charity.
The Badger Trust and Care for the Wild International are extremely concerned by the editorial decisions which led to the Countryfile interview with Princess Anne broadcast on BBC 1 on Sunday 6 April.
Our key concerns are as follows:
Advance research by BBC Countryfile on badger gassing
A BBC researcher for the Countryfile programme contacted me three weeks ago to seek the views of the Badger Trust on the issue of badger gassing. Following our discussion I was informed that Countryfile would be back in contact for an interview, if they decided to film an article on this issue.
The Badger Trust has not been contacted by the BBC since this discussion, despite the fact that Countryfile filmed an in depth interview with Princess Anne which included a key focus on badger gassing.
Advance publicity for the Princess Anne Interview
I was contacted by the Sunday Times on Wednesday 2 April to confirm that the BBC had undertaken an interview with Princess Anne for Countryfile and that the BBC were providing the print and broadcast media with a transcript and video footage of key parts of the interview, with a focus on Princess Anne's comments on badger gassing.
However, the BBC did not provide this material to the Badger Trust or allow us to record a response to the issues raised by Princess Anne in the interview, to be included in the Countryfile broadcast.
The key aim of the BBC in putting out advance publicity on the interview appears to have been to increase ratings, rather than to ensure a balance of opinion on a highly controversial political issue.
Timing of the interview and accuracy and impartiality
On Thursday 3 April the Government after much delay published its strategy for TB eradication and the future of the highly controversial badger cull policy. A key part of this strategy was a commitment to undertake further research on the issue of gassing as a possible future badger culling method.
As you appreciate, gassing badgers remains hugely controversial, yet the BBC chose to run an interview with a senior member of the Royal Family within days of the Government’s announcement, which was a clear endorsement of badger gassing, without any opposing view being included in the broadcast.
The Editor of Countryfile has countered claims that the programme was one-sided by saying both sides of the argument were covered. We recognise that a brief mention was made of the anti-badger cull protest movement, but Tom Heap allowed Princess Anne to make a number of statements during the interview which have no scientific basis. This included claims that TB rates in cattle are entirely dependent on badgers and that falling numbers of hedgehogs and bees is due to predation by badgers.
Princess Anne has a longstanding and genuine interest in farming and rural life and has every right to express her opinions on these issues.
However, if the BBC is to provide a platform for her views particularly on highly controversial issues such as badger gassing, it must ensure it provides a balance of opinion for its viewers
The many editorial failures over the Princess Anne interview call into question the BBC's obligations under section 1.3.2 of its charter which state that the BBC will do all it can "to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality".
Public reaction and right of response
Not surprisingly it appears that the BBC has now received more complaints on this interview, than for any episode of Countryfile throughout its 26 year history. In view of the serious concerns we have raised and the huge public anger over the BBC's handling of this interview, we would like the BBC to grant an in depth interview to me as CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild in the next few weeks on Countryfile
This interview should serve as an opportunity for Tom Heap to seek a response on all the key issues raised by Princess Anne. This should include the effectiveness and humaneness of badger gassing, role of cattle in the spread of bovine TB, badger population numbers and the impact of badgers on species such as hedgehogs and bees.
By taking this action the BBC will restore confidence in its commitment to accuracy and impartiality as a state funded broadcaster.
I look forward to hearing from you shortly and would be happy to meet with you or your senior colleagues to discuss the issues raised in this letter in more detail.
I confirm that both the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild will be releasing this letter to their members and supporters
Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust and Policy Advisor Care for the Wild
8 Apr 2014, 7:00 PM
Here is clear evidence that bovine TB is spread by cattle.
A MAJOR veterinary investigation is underway after a number of herds across Britain tested positive for bovine TB following a dispersal sale from a Cumbrian dairy herd.
More than 100 animals from a Cumbrian dairy were sold at the end of February at a market in Cheshire to buyers from across England, Wales and Scotland.
After some of the cattle sold were found to have tested positive for bTB, AHVLA launched a nationwide operation to trace, isolate and test all animals from the sale, alongside increased surveillance in surrounding herds.
The incident has generated significant concern among Government vets and the farming industry and raised fresh questions about the effectiveness of TB surveillance in England’s four-year testing areas, where pre-movement testing is not compulsory.
The disease has been confirmed at the Cumbrian farm which sold the cattle and it has been placed under movement restrictions. TB testing of neighbouring holdings within a 3km (1.9-mile) radius is underway.
An AHVLA spokesman said: “We are aware of a number of TB-positive cattle cases across Great Britain linked to the sale of dairy cattle from a herd in Cumbria.
“AHVLA has taken robust and rapid action to identify all animals originating from this herd so they can be isolated and tested for TB.”
He said it was too early to comment on the likely number of herds involved, or how this could have happened with a herd originating in the relatively clean four-year area.
“This incident highlights how serious a problem TB is for all cattle farmers, regardless of where they farm,” he said.
NFU North West regional director Robert Sheasby said: “We’ll continue to be involved in supporting our affected members in Cumbria and across the country and working with AHVLA. Investigations into the outbreak are at an early stage.
“It would be premature to speculate as to the origin of infection in the Cumbrian herd.”
The incident will prompt further debate about cattle TB controls as Defra publishes its long-term TB eradication strategy for England, which covers TB testing and movement controls and includes a proposal for comulsory post-movement testing in the TB Low Risk Area.
The case against gassing badgers – by Dr Chris Cheeseman (now on Countryfile website at www.countryfile.com/news/case-against-gassing-badgers)
Princess Anne’s suggestion that if we want to kill badgers the kindest way would be to gas them was guaranteed to provoke controversy. The record needs putting straight.
The unfortunate side effect of the interview has been to focus the debate on the method of culling rather than on the assumption that we have to kill badgers to tackle TB in cattle (the science says not).
So let's deal with this irrelevant issue of gassing badger setts once and for all.
Back in 1982 I was asked to visit the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down to witness the results of experiments designed to improve the efficiency of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) gassing of badgers, the then preferred method of culling. What I saw was truly shocking.
HCN was believed to be humane in action, with animals lapsing into unconsciousness and either dying, if the dose was lethal, or recovering without ill effect from a sub-lethal dose.
I watched videos of badgers retching and vomiting while making distress calls. When asked what I thought, I said that gassing with HCN was clearly inhumane and should be stopped immediately, and so it was.
Work was also undertaken to try to explain why badgers frequently dug their way out of setts that had been power gassed with HCN. Whole setts were excavated, with convoluted tunnel systems hundreds of metres long, and it was discovered that in the blind ended tunnels gas concentrations fell well below the lethal dose required to kill badgers.
Apart from the need to demonstrate the humaneness of any gas, whether it is carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or any other candidate gas, there are many other difficulties associated with gassing:
As with the recent free shooting it is indiscriminate – both healthy and infected badgers will be killed. Protected non-target species such as otters and polecats sometimes occupy badger setts. Badger setts are often in inaccessible places like very steep wooded banks, cliff edges, caves or tin mine shafts. The complex structure of setts will make it difficult to achieve the lethal concentration of gas required. There are safety implications for operators and the public. It is unlikely to be cost effective. We have no knowledge of the potential negative impacts on the spread of TB in both badgers and cattle, such as the “perturbation” influence already demonstrated with trapping. Perhaps most importantly, there would need to be an expensive trial to establish whether gassing badger setts is an effective way of controlling TB in cattle. To use the well-worn cliché, it’s a no-brainer.
Cattle measures are the key tools for controlling bovine TB, as Wales has demonstrated by nearly halving the number of cattle slaughtered in just four years from 11, 671 in 2009 down to 6,102 in 2013. This was achieved without any badger culling.
The obsessive preoccupation with culling badgers must be replaced with a determined effort to drive down the cattle-to-cattle spread of TB. If there is still a need to tackle the disease in badgers when this has been done, vaccination offers the only viable option.
The Independent Experts Panel's report on the trial badger culls is clear that the process was inhumane and ineffective.
Only 11 badgers were culled using shotguns during the 6-week pilot culls. Consequently, we were unable to assess the humaneness of shooting by means of shotguns and are unable to comment further on the humaneness of this form of culling. (undermined the process again)
- One observed badger took 13m 45s to die.
- Out of 88 animals observed, 68 died within 66 seconds, 9 escaped and were found 15 minutes later and 10 (three of which were confirmed to be injured) escaped and were not found.
- Between 7.4% - 22.8% (95% CI) of badgers were still alive after 5 min.
- Post-mortem examinations highlighted concerns over the accuracy of shooting. Only 56 (35.4%) of 158 badgers submitted for post-mortem examination were hit in the target area described in the Best Practice Guidance.
- The NFU instructed contractors to deviate from Natural England's Best Practice Guidance on shooting without informing Natural England or Defra. Members of the IEP were not notified of this until after the cull.
- Seven badgers required at least two shots, with one Observed shooting recording six shots fired at a single badger.
- Culling was not permitted on up to 30% of land in each pilot area. However, culling on the borders of non-compliant land holdings may have removed some badgers from them.
- A significant number of Contractors dropped out during the 6-week period.
Oddly there was not formal reports on the safely of the pilot culls.
Badger Trust expose some of the mistruths about the badger culling.
Badger Cull Roll-Out Postponed – But Culling Returns to Gloucestershire and Somerset
ominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor to Care for the Wild, said: “In one sense this announcement is great news, as the lives of thousands of badgers have just been saved. There has been a massive, peaceful but determined opposition movement to this killing spree shown by protest marches across the country, and this has obviously paid off.
“The government is clearly in full retreat. They had hoped to cull badgers in 12 areas this year, so to only be culling in two is a victory of sorts. But why continue at all? Culling is cruel, expensive and won’t work. The government should call it off completely, and come to the table so we can plan a way of beating bTB which will actually be effective.”
"Mr Dyer added the Badger Trust will now be looking at options to take a Judicial Review case to the High Court to stop any further badger culling"
“Has there ever been a government policy that has so blindly, so arrogantly, pushed on despite all the evidence showing that it won’t work and that it isn’t necessary?,” he added.
“In just the last week we’ve been presented with more false arguments and untruths. TB will cost £1 billion over 10 years? Really? Prove it, the maths doesn’t add up. TB can only be beaten by killing wildlife? Really? Wales has cut the number of TB cattle slaughtered by nearly half in four years, without a cull. The Ireland cull shows that culling works? Really? A BBC investigation has just shown that there is no evidence to justify that claim. Oh, and cats are spreading TB to humans because of badgers? Give me a break, that’s outrageous scaremongering.”
Owen Paterson committed to rolling out the cull to further areas in the future but did not specify when. Dominic Dyer added: “Where’s the sense? Better farming practices including controlled cattle movements, better testing and better biosecurity are clearly working. Combine these measures with a long term badger and cattle vaccination programme and we will beat this disease, without having to kill any badgers. We desperately need the government to stop pushing ahead with a political non-science based culling policy which is leading to the senseless destruction of badgers and open their eyes to what will actually help farmers and wildlife alike.
“ We do welcome the commitment to creating badger vaccination ‘buffer zones’ but we also wish to see this rolled out to TB hot spot areas as well. The government will now be under huge pressure to provide farmers with a vaccination option in areas where there won’t be a cull for many years, and we’re very happy to help them do this.”
5 Apr 2014, 12:31 PM
Yet more money being spent on badgers, presumably publicly funded?. What about the other mammals that get the disease, some of which are far more numerous than badgers and have closer contact with humans? What about concentrating on cattle - and cattle vaccination?
DNA study will reveal badgers' role in spreading Bovine TB
Researchers are embarking on a £1m study to establish the extent to which badgers are responsible for spreading tuberculosis in cattle. By using a combination of DNA sequencing and mathematical modeling, researchers at the University of Glasgow hope the results will inform effective and scientifically-guided policies for curbing bovine TB.
Several measures exist for controlling the disease, most controversially badger culling. This strategy relies on the notion that badgers make the biggest contribution to the persistence and transmission of the disease. However, the evidence is incomplete – for example, it is not known precisely how the bacterium spreads between animals.
In order to identify the best strategy for controlling disease the science on which intervention policies are based needs to be refined. The team led by Professor Rowland Kao in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, will study thousands of archived samples of bacteria that have been isolated from badgers and cattle over a period of 20 years.
They will read the entire DNA of M. bovis , and then analyse it using advanced mathematical and statistical models. This groundbreaking study will take advantage of the cutting-edge sequencing technologies at Glasgow Polyomics, a flagship facility supported by the Wellcome Trust at the University of Glasgow.
This large-scale DNA study will provide unprecedented information: it will reveal an accurate map of how the bacterium moves across the landscape, providing a much deeper understanding of the mechanisms of this spread and whether it is mainly cattle or badgers that are responsible.
Affordable and rapid DNA-sequencing technologies are increasingly being used to advance our understanding of the risks to human and animal health, and inform policy to minimize those risks.
Professor Kao, who will work on this project with his University of Glasgow colleagues Dr Roman Biek and Dr Pawel Herzyk, said: "This study is an excellent example of the potential for new technologies to transform our understanding of epidemiology.
"The mathematical models produced for this study are important for understanding not only the transmission of bovine TB, but also the dynamics of other infectious diseases."
The current edition of Gwlad (March/April 2014) confirms that the level of bovine TB in Wales has reduced and new incidents are down by a quarter on the previous year.
Interestingly badgers are NOT being culled in Wales, yet between December 2012 and November 2013 new incidents were down by 23% (down 6% for UK) as compared with the previous year. The number of cattle slaughtered after failing the skin test were down by 33% (down by 14% for UK) compared with the previous year. Badgers are being vaccinated in the Intensive Action Area but it is too soon for this to have taken effect. However, cattle controls have been enforced for some time now - so we will leave it up to you to decide if badger culling is cost effective and worthwhile!
3 Apr 2014, 1:21 PM
Email comment from ID saying: 'I just listened to the announcement. The roll-out is postponed, not cancelled. The 4-years licence in S & Glos are now called pilots (not just the 6-week culls last autumn), from which they will try to "perfect the techniques" using IEP recommendations, then roll-out..... vaccination buffer zone around hotspots, but no detail of timing or areas.