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Wildlife Reservoirs, is the badger a costly distraction, a scapegoat ...?



 Added by  Thomas (Guest)
 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?

becky
BADGER CULL A DISMAL AND VERY EXPENSIVE FAILURE
 
Today the badger cull was called off in Gloucestershire after Natural England revoked the licence over failure to meet greatly reduced targets.
 
The collapse of the culling trial represents a humiliation for the government's policy as it means every target set has now been missed.
Natural England (NE) will revoke the culling licence and the cull will end at noon on Saturday, three weeks earlier than planned.
 
The cull, intended to help curb tuberculosis in cattle, was initially tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.
But just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension that was granted against the advice of the lead scientist on NE's board.
A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.
 
Experts had warned repeatedly that the current pilot culls in Glos and Somerset risk actually increasing TB, as fleeing badgers spread out more widely, an effect called perturbation. The scientists behind the decade-long trial have called the cull "mindless" and a "costly distraction".
 
Info from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/29/badger-cull-called-off-gloucestershire?CMP=twt_gu
 
The Badger Trust press release says:
 
BADGER CULLING PILOT TRIAL ABANDONED
 
Mr Owen Paterson, the Coalition and the cattle industry have wasted the lives of many hundreds of badgers and have suffered a humiliating and inevitable setback with the reported abandonment this weekend of extended badger killing in Gloucestershire [1].
 
The controversial free shooting method used departed far beyond any scientific precedent and even beyond its own original terms of reference. Cage trapping and shooting in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial lasted only 11 days, but Ministers and officials said on six occasions that six weeks would be necessary for the pilot trials. They then extended them to nine weeks in Somerset and a disgraceful 14 weeks in Gloucestershire.
 
Natural England is responsible for issuing the culling licences, but its board was divided when it recently decided to allow the two-month extension of the Gloucestershire culling period. This was against the advice of Prof. David Macdonald, chairman of its Science Advisory Committee and a board member.
 
The Badger Trust, which has been in constant communication with Natural England and Defra, eventually received the minutes of the meeting disclosed under the Environmental Information Regulations. As recently as Tuesday (November 26) the Trust was pressing for the numbers slaughtered to be revealed.
 
Prof. Macdonald, of Oxford University, told The Guardian last month: "My personal opinion as a biologist [is] not to continue the cull. One could not have significant comfort that the original proposals would deliver gains to farmers. Extending the cull would make the outcome even less predictable and even more unpromising." [2]
 
David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “This ill-advised cut-rate shambles has involved miscalculation of badger populations, manipulated time scales, huge expense for the taxpayer in policing costs, and the fiasco of repeatedly-missed targets. If it was not so serious it would be comical and should never have happened in the first place”.
 
If culling is rolled out in affected areas of England next year as threatened it would have to be by the cage trapping and shooting method at up to ten times the cost to farmers.
 

 
becky
High Court Action filed yesterday by Brian May’s Save Me Organisation
 
The controversial badger cull extension presently under way in the South West of England faces a new legal challenge with a High Court action filed today by Brian May’s Save Me organisation.
 
Save Me was set up in April 2010 as a voice against persecution and cruelty of UK countryside wildlife, and has become a leading voice in the campaign to oppose the cull.
 
Represented by leading Human Rights QC, John Cooper and Solicitor David Wells of Wells Burcombe Solicitors, Save Me has filed an ‘exceptionally urgent’ High Court Judicial Review Claim calling for an immediate halt to the culling presently operating under extended licence in Gloucestershire.
 
An eight week extension to the Gloucestershire pilot cull was granted by Natural England after the initial trial period failed to reach its 70% target, and began on 23 October.
 
The Save Me claim names Secretary of State For Environment Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, and Natural England as defendants.
 
Other Interested Parties are named as the National Farmers Union and the Badger Trust.
 
The call for an urgent review is based on the reasoning that with the Gloucestershire extension already operative, unless this is urgently addressed the period of the extension might elapse before a formal review can be applied.
 
The action will challenge the granting of the approval by Natural England against the recommendation of its own Scientific Advisor, Professor David MacDonald, Head of Natural England Scientific Committee. He stated according to Minutes that the view that killing more badgers would lead to better disease control was "not easily reconciled with the evidence".
 
Furthermore, that despite DEFRA’s Chief Scientific Offer declining to comment on any proposed extension before he had seen the Independent Experts Report, the decision by Natural England was made without taking reference to the Independent Experts Assessment, therefore that the decision making process which resulted in the culling period extension failed to apply the scrutiny and duty to consult that was demanded of it adding to the unreasonable nature of its decision.
 
Says John Cooper QC "From the material I have seen already, it is clear that appropriate procedures have not been taken in relation to this action, which will inevitably lead to the destruction of more wildlife if the Government remains unchallenged.
 
“In all the circumstances and for the grounds we have set out, we assert that the decisions made by DEFRA, the Secretary of State and Natural England, separately and or cumulatively were unreasonable and should be immediately revoked.”
 
becky
Falling bovine TB (bTB) rates in England and Northern Ireland, achieved by cattle management rather than culling, have exposed Owen Paterson’s description of the Republic of Ireland’s cull policy ‘success’ as blarney, says a wildlife charity.
 
A Care for Wild spokeman said: "Environment Minister Mr Paterson consistently uses the Republic of Ireland’s cull policy to justify the cull of badgers in England. But statistics continue to show that a more impressive reduction in bTB has taken place in Northern Ireland – without a single badger being killed.
 
"Last week, new Defra figures showed that in England up until August, there has been an 8.4% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered due to TB, compared to the same period last year, and a 5.7% reduction in the number of bTB incidents.
 
"In Ireland, the current rate of bTB (up to September) is 5.4% in Northern Ireland, compared to 3.5% in the Republic. However, since 2002, the rate in Northern Ireland has dropped by 4.5 percentile points, compared to 3% in the Republic – thus not killing badgers has actually been more successful."
 
Mike Rendle, from the Northern Ireland Badger Group, said: “Northern Ireland, like Great Britain, experienced a surge in bovine TB following the foot and mouth epidemic. The South of Ireland was largely unaffected by this which makes Northern Ireland’s achievement all the more remarkable.
 
“Mr Paterson has grossly misrepresented the TB situation in Ireland and should instead be using the progress in Northern Ireland as an exemplar for future UK strategy. Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands with an agreed approach to dealing with bovine TB. This science-led strategy benefits from the broad support of industry and environmental sectors with an interest in tackling this disease.”
 
Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild, said: “To continually hold up the Republic of Ireland as the ultimate achievement of a culling policy is at best blarney, and at worst a complete con. Accurate reading of the statistics show that it is cattle management, not culling that works. Meanwhile, Mr Paterson’s perfect case study has led to the slaughter of nearly 100,000 badgers in Ireland for no proven benefit. It’s shocking.”
 
Defra and the National Farmers Union may also be looking to the Republic of Ireland for a method of culling – by snare. NFU chief Peter Kendall recently put both gassing and snaring on the table as possible future methods of culling badgers.
 
Dominic Dyer said: “Around 6000 badgers a year are killed by government snares in Ireland. That’s 6,000 slow, painful deaths of animals, the vast majority of which will not be infected with TB. We cannot learn any lessons from TB management in the Republic of Ireland, and we certainly don’t want their methods.”
 
 
Read more: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Blarney-Badger-Cull-8211-Falling-TB-rates-expose/story-20105233-detail/story.html#ixzz2lgXaTK...
 
becky
Whole genome sequencing provides researchers with a better understanding of bovine TB outbreaks.
 
The use of whole bacterial genome sequencing will allow scientists to inexpensively track how bovine tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted from farm to farm, according to research presented at the Society of General Microbiology Autumn Conference.
 
Researchers from the University of Glasgow, working in collaboration with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland, sequenced the genomes of 147 M. bovis samples, collected over a decade of outbreaks in Northern Ireland. By combining the genomic sequences of the bacteria with information about when and where the sample was isolated, in addition to data on the movement of cattle from farm to farm, the researchers were able to build a detailed forensic map of bovine TB spread.
 
The results showed that, even on a scale of few kilometres, M. bovis samples from neighbouring farms were more closely genetically related than geographically distant farms that had had cattle moved between them. This finding confirms that, while long distance spread via cattle movements plays a role, local transmission mechanisms appear to drive the spread of the disease, although the researchers are unable to determine what these are at the present time.
 
Hannah Trewby, who is presenting this work says, “The inclusion of whole genome information in our data will give us unprecedented insight into how bovine TB spreads, and will help us to develop better control methods for the disease.”
 
The role of infected wild badgers in spreading bovine TB remains controversial. This work will help to clarify the role that badgers may have in spreading the disease and continue to build a sound scientific evidence base on which control measures can be built.
 
Professor Rowland Kao, the Principle Investigator of the project, explains, “Our results suggests that the establishment and local persistence of the pathogen in cattle has a distinct spatial signature — we believe that explaining this signature is the key to quantifying the role that badgers play in the persistence of bovine TB in Britain and Ireland. While we do not yet have sufficient data to be definitive, it is clear that whole genome sequencing of the bacterium will play an important part in solving this puzzle. Given the extensive collection of samples already collected from cattle and badgers, we are optimistic that this approach will help accumulating the right scientific evidence over the coming years to tackle this important problem.”
 
http://www.newsfix.ca/2013/11/19/whole-genome-sequencing-provides-researchers-better-understanding-bovine-tb-outbreaks/
 
becky
Falling bovine TB (bTB) rates in England and Northern Ireland, achieved by cattle management rather than culling, have exposed Owen Paterson’s description of the Republic of Ireland’s cull policy ‘success’ as blarney, says a wildlife charity.
 
A Care for Wild spokeman said: "Environment Minister Mr Paterson consistently uses the Republic of Ireland’s cull policy to justify the cull of badgers in England. But statistics continue to show that a more impressive reduction in bTB has taken place in Northern Ireland – without a single badger being killed.
 
"Last week, new Defra figures showed that in England up until August, there has been an 8.4% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered due to TB, compared to the same period last year, and a 5.7% reduction in the number of bTB incidents.
"In Ireland, the current rate of bTB (up to September) is 5.4% in Northern Ireland, compared to 3.5% in the Republic. However, since 2002, the rate in Northern Ireland has dropped by 4.5 percentile points, compared to 3% in the Republic – thus not killing badgers has actually been more successful."
 
 
Mike Rendle, from the Northern Ireland Badger Group, said: “Northern Ireland, like Great Britain, experienced a surge in bovine TB following the foot and mouth epidemic. The South of Ireland was largely unaffected by this which makes Northern Ireland’s achievement all the more remarkable.
“Mr Paterson has grossly misrepresented the TB situation in Ireland and should instead be using the progress in Northern Ireland as an exemplar for future UK strategy. Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands with an agreed approach to dealing with bovine TB. This science-led strategy benefits from the broad support of industry and environmental sectors with an interest in tackling this disease.”
Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild, said: “To continually hold up the Republic of Ireland as the ultimate achievement of a culling policy is at best blarney, and at worst a complete con. Accurate reading of the statistics show that it is cattle management, not culling that works. Meanwhile, Mr Paterson’s perfect case study has led to the slaughter of nearly 100,000 badgers in Ireland for no proven benefit. It’s shocking.”
 
Read more: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Blarney-Badger-Cull-8211-Falling-TB-rates-expose/story-20105233-detail/story.html#ixzz2lIV0R5...
 
becky
Owen Paterson stated recently that 'some of the badgers that have been shot have been desperately sick ...'
 
From the response to the Parliamentary Question asked below it is clear that Paterson based this inaccurate statement, which will mislead the House, purely on what he has been told by contractors and farmers doing the cull. How do they have the expertise in a disease such as bTB where clinical signs are so rare? Common sense too would suggest too that contractors and farmers are unlikely to admit most of the badgers killed looked healthy. Interestingly in the report just released by the Welsh Assembly regarding vaccination of badgers - it is reported that of the 1424 badgers trapped and vaccinated no seriously injured/diseased badgers were found nor was veterinary assistance ever called for. No sign of clinical symptoms of disease ...
 
Bovine Tuberculosis (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131118/text/131118w0003.htm#1311194003073)
 
Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge, of 10 October 2013, Official Report, column 280 on bovine tuberculosis, on the basis of what evidence he stated that some of the badgers that have been shot have been desperately sick; and how many and what proportion of the badgers that have been shot to date have (a) undergone a post-mortem sufficient to test for TB infection and (b) been found to have advanced TB. [174928]
 
George Eustice: The Secretary of State's comments about sick badgers relate to the comments made to him by contractors and farmers during the culls.
 
A total of 155 badgers were subjected to post mortem examination during the pilot culls as part of the assessment of the humaneness of controlled shooting. Any outward signs of illness or poor condition were noted as part of the procedure. TB testing in culled badgers is not being undertaken as a routine procedure in these pilots as high levels of TB were confirmed in badgers in the regions in which the cull areas are located during the randomised badger cull trial (RBCT).
 
However, on a few occasions, testing has been carried out at the specific request of landowners when there has been concern that a culled badger appeared to have been in a poor state of health. As post-mortems and testing have not been completed, the numbers of badgers found to be carrying TB is not known at present. Moreover, conducting conclusive testing for TB in shot carcasses is highly challenging.

 
becky
Interesting that at para 64 of the Year 1 Report on vaccination project in Wales (http://wales.gov.uk/docs/drah/publications/130129iaareport2012en.pdf) it is reported that no seriously injured/diseased badgers were trapped nor was veterinary assistance ever called for. The only signs of injury were minor bites and scratches. No clinical signs of bTB then - in this alleged bovine TB hot spot?
 
becky
Year 1 Report on vaccination project in Wales:
 
Vaccinating badgers in Wales:
 
http://wales.gov.uk/docs/drah/publications/130129iaareport2012en.pdf
 
becky
There is a distinct lack of transparency from Defra and this Government.
 
We have discovered that he blog http://tacklingbovinetb.tumblr.com/ is actually a Defra website, although it is very vague re this.
 
It is shamefully biased.
 
Is Defra ignoring the Civil Service Core Values and should Parliament be holding them to account?:
 
Integrity – putting the obligations of public service above personal interests
Honesty – being truthful and open
Objectivity – basing advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence
Impartiality – acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving governments of different political parties equally well
 
http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/values

 
becky
Rethink Bovine TB
@Rethinkbtb
Re Cull pilot It is totally irrational to spend 6 wks doing something to assess the method then continue with same method without assessment.
 
We agree!
 
becky
The cull is a waste of money and we are waiting for details of the police costs - funded by the taxpayer.
 
Less than half the farms taking part in the badger cull in Gloucestershire have cattle, Natural England has admitted (/www.gloucestercitizen.co.uk/half-Gloucestershire-farms-badger-cull-cattle/story-20094104-detail/story.html#!)
 
A Freedom of Information request (FoI) to the organisation showed that only 43% of farms in West Gloucestershire taking part in the cull actually contained any cows.
 
In West Somerset, only 60% of the participating farms have cattle, while in Dorset, it is 70%t.
 
The badger cull in Gloucestershire has been extended to December 18, after the original six-week period only saw 30% of the badger population culled.
 
The cull was extended to allow the private cull companies to hit their 70%target in the bovine TB (bTB) hotspot.
 
Those against the cull are questioning why improvements in the bovine TB testing regime re cattle was not prioritised over the culling of badgers.
 
The vast majority of badgers killed in the cull will have been healthy, and so the killing was pointless - a waste of time and effort, distracting from the real issues involved. The FoI information shows that for the minority that may have had the disease, most were not on a farm where they were a threat to cattle anyway.
 
As temperatures are expected to drop closer to freezing this week, the Badger Trust has renewed calls for badgers not to be cage trapped and left to die in the cold.
 
A Defra spokesman told the Citizen the animals would not be caged from December 1 to avoid exposing them to the harsh weather conditions.
 
Marksmen will be left to assess if traps should be set from now until December.
 
She added that guidelines are in place to ensure the suspension of trapping where there is a “risk of extreme exposure”.
 
becky
CIEEM (Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management) is organizing an event on Badgers and Bovine TB on Tuesday 10th December 2013 at 7pm at Atkins, The Hub, Aztec West, 500 Park Ave, Almondsbury, Bristol, Avon BS32 4RZ. Cost £5. Places are limited so reservation is essential via email to Abigail.smith@mouchel.com
 
Speakers:
Professor Robbie McDonald: “Introduction to badger management and the control of bovine TB”
As Chair in Natural Environment at University of Exeter, Robbie’s interest is in mammal ecology and small carnivores in particular. His research has included looking at the science, policy and practical implications of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in badgers, and the impacts and management of invasive species. He also leads the University's partnership with the National Wildlife Management Centre as part of a Wildlife Research Co-Operative and is a member of the Biosciences department in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. Robbie is based at the University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (www.exeter.ac.uk/esi)
 
Roger Blowey BSc.,BVSc.,FRCVS, FRAgS: “Does badger culling have a part to play in the control of Bovine TB?”
Roger is a RCVS Specialist in Cattle health and Production (dairy). Now self-employed, he was formerly a partner in an 11-person mixed practice in Gloucester, UK. Having spent over 40 years involved with farm animal medicine, he knows only too well the frustration felt by farmers when reactors to bovine TB are identified in the herd. He is a well-known speaker both at home and overseas, and the author of a range of scientific papers and textbooks. He has spoken at numerous forums on bovine tuberculosis, specifically in relation to badger management and the use of culling.
 
Dr Gordon McGlone OBE MCIEEM: “Deployment of Badger TB Vaccination – Where are we now?”
Gordon is an ecologist by training and a Chartered Environmentalist. He took over the helm of the tiny Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in 1979, where, in late 2010, he led Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in the deployment of the new bTB badger vaccine (BadgerBCG) making it the first private organisation in the UK to do this. He has become a national expert on badgers and bovine TB, having supported Ministerial advisory groups, presented evidence to Parliamentary select committees, and led The Wildlife Trusts on this subject. He remains mindful of the serious impact that bovine TB has on the efficiency of farming and the welfare of farmers, which includes his own family.
 
Agenda:
7pm Welcome and Introductions
7.10pm Robbie McDonald – Introduction to badger management and the control of bovine TB.
7.30pm Roger Blowey – Does badger culling have a part to play in the control of Bovine TB?
7.50pm Gordon McGlone – Deployment of Badger TB Vaccination – Where are we now?
8.10pm Questions and Answers
8.40pm Refreshments
 
becky
YET ANOTHER CASE WHICH IS DUE TO TEST FAILURE AND CATTLE MOVEMENT - NOT BADGERS.
 
According to the Farmers Guardian report (www.farmersguardian.com/home/hot-topics/bovine-tb/durham-tb-outbreak-cattle-had-clear-pre-movement-test/60145.article) the recent Co Durham TB outbreak cattle 'had clear pre-movement test'.
 
'CATTLE that caused the first bovine TB (bTB) outbreak in County Durham for 22 months had been pre-movement tested and shown to be clear, according to the local NFU livestock chairman.'
 
The breakdown on a large beef unit that finishes thousands of animals each year has caused huge concern in the county, which remains desperate to remain free of the disease, and led to criticism of the farmer involved.
 
All cattle on holdings within three kilometres of the outbreak will now need to be tested for bTB, under Defra’s current strategy for dealing with outbreaks in clean areas of the country. Around 70 farmers attended a meeting on Monday, at which an AHVLA official outlined what farmers would now be required to do.
 
NFU North East livestock chairman Hans Porksen, who chaired the meeting, said the root of the problem appeared to be a failure in the pre-movement testing regime, rather than any wrongdoing by the farmer.
 
The disease was discovered when a handful of animals were found with suspect lesions at the abattoir. The animals came from a one-year testing area and, as required, had been pre-movement tested but the tests were clear.
 
The herd has been placed under movement restrictions, and a number of other animals have been removed for slaughter after reacting to a skin test.
 
becky
Access to Information Request 2249 sent to us is in response to the question: (the response would seem to demonstrate just how badly thought out and chaotic the culling policy is?).
 
Can you tell me the number of farms or landholdings in each of the three pilot cull areas that contain livestock, meaning cattle, and those that do not hold any cattle? Somerset, Gloucester and also Dorset the reserve area.
 
The response was:
 
Not all farms within the cull areas are participating. Within the West Somerset area 60% of participating farms have cattle. In the West Gloucestershire area 43% of the participating farms have cattle. In the Dorset reserve area 70% of participating farms have cattle.
 
becky
... and in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/13/badger-cull-gloucestershire-natural-england
 
The Natural England (NE) E executive who made the final decision to extend the cull, Andrew Wood, told the meeting: "The science was uncertain and did not give a definitive answer. A judgement-based decision had to be made."
 
The NE board meeting on 23 October considered the case for extending the Gloucestershire cull by eight weeks, but four of the nine members expressed severe reservations, particularly on the pivotal advice of the government's chief veterinary officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens. Wood said that advice was "the key" to the decision to extend.
 
The controversial decision by Natural England to extend the culling of badgers in Gloucestershire was narrowly approved against the recommendation of its own top scientific adviser, according to internal documents seen by the Guardian.
 
During the meeting, the minutes of which have been obtained by the Guardian, MacDonald said: "The CVO's advice that killing further badgers would lead to better disease control is not easily reconciled with the evidence." He added it was "hard to understand" how further trials could be licensed following the failure of the initial culls. Other board members agreed that the extension was likely to increase TB infections in cattle, with one noting "independent advice should have been sought". The minutes record discussion of "the fact that it was difficult to predict what the disease control benefits would be". In the end, the board voted narrowly to allow Wood to make the decision.
 
At the board meeting, the head of NE's science advisory committee, Professor David Macdonald, described the view that killing more badgers would lead to better disease control was "not easily reconciled with the evidence".
 
The nation's official wildlife body, granted the extension without seeking independent advice and against Prof Macdonald's guidance, the minutes of an NE board meeting record.
 
A legal challenge to abandon the cull is now certain, said the Badger Trust, which successfully ended culling in Wales through court action.
 
Prof Macdonald, an NE board member and badger expert, told the Guardian: "It's an appalling dilemma, but the evidence suggests an extension of the culling in Gloucestershire is unlikely to [curb tuberculosis in cattle]. I fear there will be two tragic losers, the farmers who are paying the crippling bill for extending this trial and the badgers whose lives may be lost for little purpose" SURPRISINGLY THE COSTS TO THE TAXPAYER ARE NOT EVEN MENTIONED!
 
becky
Bearing in mind the huge cost to the taxpayer for each badger killed in the trial culls it is disconcerting to read how many experts remain opposed to the killing. The latest are from the Natural England Board as the article from the BBC today states. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24931871
 
Minutes of the meeting giving the go-ahead to a controversial extension of the badger cull reveal deep unease among several board members about the decision.
 
Wildlife expert, Prof David MacDonald expressed the opinion it "would not lead to a worthwhile gain for farmers".
 
He was among four board members who disagreed with the decision to grant an extension to the Gloucestershire pilot.
 
The document was released by the Badger Trust, which may take legal action.
 
The minutes are of a meeting of board members of the government wildlife agency Natural England over a proposed eight-week extension of culling in Gloucestershire.
 
The decision was crucial to the success of the cull, which managed to kill about 30% of the badger population in the six-week pilot, less than half the initial target.
 
The document seen by BBC News reveals that David MacDonald, chair of Natural England's science advisory committee and Professor of Wildlife Conservation at Oxford University, expressed deep concerns about the decision.
 
The minutes say: "He stated that whilst fully understanding and respecting arguments that led to the decision, he had personally arrived at the conclusion that an extension in the culling period would not lead to a worthwhile gain for farmers."
 
The document also revealed concerns by some of the board about the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Nigel Gibbens, that the benefits of an extended cull were "likely to outweigh the perturbation impact of leaving a higher badger population".
 
Another board member at the meeting on 23 October "expressed concern about the weight being given to the advice from the CVO and expressed the view that independent advice should have been sought".
 
Other information that emerged included:
 
Parts of the Gloucestershire cull zone were not accessible during the initial 6-week period of the cull because of the presence of protestors
A 70% target for the extended cull was considered "not realistic" because the experience in Somerset was that "the number of active badgers and number culled was diminishing"
One board member left the meeting during discussions, although a reason was not given.
At the end of the meeting, executive Andrew Wood made the decision to grant a new license to allow the cull to continue in Gloucestershire.
 
However, four board members asked for their unease at the decision to be recorded, saying the extension would not improve bovine TB (bTB) control in cattle.
 
A spokesperson for the Badger Trust said it was "consulting its lawyers to consider its position in relation to litigation, and in particular the question of timing of any action".
 
becky
Regional in-depth media programme investigating news items of interest, first broadcast October 29th, 2013. This one is about the increase of bTB north and east of England (where badgers are not believed to be implicated). Despite the stricter cattle movement controls it is disturbing to hear people here talk about breaches in cattle movements and deliberate fraud, failures re bTB testing ...
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PL1068B91575DCAD6A&v=MWGoX37KPI8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DMWGoX37KPI8%26list%3DPL1068B91575D...
 
becky
Surprise, surprise, following a Freedom of Information request to Defra, Rethink bTB were told that Defra has confirmed it does not hold data on cattle or Btb breakdown information in cull zones:
 
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: Herds within pilot cull and buffer areas
Thank you for your request for information about number of cattle herds within the cull areas and buffer zones which we received on 30/09/2013. We have handled your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
I am writing to advise you that the information that you have requested is not held by Defra.
 
If they don't hold that information then how can they know possibly know if the cull is working?
 
There is much concern that much of the culling has been carried out on large shooting estates too .... why? We thought it was to protect cattle or is it just seen by the wealthy landowners of the shooting estates as a convenient way of controlling an animal they deem as a pest/predator they could not previously kill because of its protected status?

 
becky
Shame on a biased BBC. Well done Chris Packham for sticking to your principles when most are afraid to do so. Chris is renowned for researching a subject properly - he is clearly one of the few that has bothered to carefully look at all the information available - and come down on the side of the many scientific experts that are so against the badger culling.
 
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10436603/Chris-Packham-rapped-by-BBC-for-intemperate-Twitter-remarks-about- badger-cull.html
 
becky
Another area infected because of cattle movements - not badgers ... AN outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) in cattle was last night confirmed in County Durham ... Neighbouring farmers last night spoke of their anger that infected cattle had been brought to a region which has previously been regarded as free of the disease in both livestock and wildlife. ... “It is believed that the infection was inadvertently carried in cattle bought from a high risk area of the country, where cases of bovine TB are much more prevalent. TB testing of neighbouring holdings within a three kilometre radius is underway...
 
Bovine TB outbreak confirmed in County Durham (From The Northern Echo)
 
Info from: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10797783.Bovine_TB_outbreak_confirmed_in_County_Durham/
 
Scotland is TB free - achieved by strict pre-movement regulations: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/animal-welfare/Diseases/disease/tuberculosis/guidance/control

 
becky
The Badger Trust is angry that COALITION MISSES ITS CULLING TARGETS BUT CLAIMS SUCCESS
 
Ninety badgers have been killed during the hastily-introduced three-week extension in the Somerset “pilot” culling area. This takes the total across the whole cull period to 940, which the Coalition Government claims is a 65 per cent reduction in the local badger population.
 
The Badger Trust puts this news into context:
 
• This is short of the 70 percent minimum required. It has taken 63 days to achieve against 12 days in the authoritative £50 million Randomised Badger Culling Trial [1].
 
• The licence stipulated a minimum number of 165 badgers to be removed during the extension. As only 90 were in fact killed the consortium must explain how this satisfies one of the licensing conditions [2].
 
• Defra has stood down humaneness observation teams and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency has advised that data collected during the extensions should be avoided [3].
 
• Cage trapping had to be introduced after only 3 weeks as free-shooting (which is what was supposed to be being trialled) was not successful.
 
• A top level group of scientists advised the Coalition of the need for coordinated, sustained and simultaneous culling for any beneficial effect at all [4]. It has not been.
 
• Furthermore, the badger population of the area has been gerrymandered downwards from 4,300, to 2,972 to 1450, making the “target” easier to achieve.
 
• This seems to ignore the fact that what's known as the perturbation effect--stirring up a population that could be carrying disease-- increases the risk to neighbouring farms. This risk is now even greater because of longer culling periods.
 
• No confidence whatever can be placed in this unscientific approach, particularly when the Chief Veterinary Officer had advised that a further increase in the number of badgers culled after the initial six-week period would improve the disease control benefits [5] and the Secretary of State included the point in his Commons statement [6], that the further increase would enable benefits to accrue earlier.
 
The Coalition Government claims the pilots were to check whether the free shooting method was effective, safe and humane. To be effective culling must be simultaneous and coordinated. The pilots have achieved neither, and checks on humaneness have been abandoned.
 
NOTES
 
[1] RBCT. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/isg/report/final_report.pdf
 
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/somerset-badger-cull-extension-granted
 
[3] Official correspondence from October 11th released to the Badger Trust.
 
[4] “If culling is not conducted in a coordinated, sustained and simultaneous manner according to the minimum criteria, then this could result in a smaller benefit or even a detrimental effect on confirmed cattle bTB incidence. [N.B. the minimum criteria are defined as: covering at least 70% of the land within the culled area (based on RBCT experience. . .” http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/bovinetb-scientificexperts-110404.pdf
 
[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/somerset-badger-cull-ends
 
[6] http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/November-2013/5 November/6-DEFRA-BovineTB.pdf

 
becky
"Remembering the man who fought the badger cull in the 80's "
 
1981, Nelson Crook mournfully reflected on the death of several badgers at the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture at his farm near Wootton Bassett.
 
His eyes welling-up, Nelson Crook is unable to conceal his emotions as he recalls an incident that occurred on his land a few months earlier which continues to haunt, anger and disgust him.
 
“They pined their hearts out,” says Nelson, a 71 year-old retired horse farmer. “It was pitiful. We left them milk, but they couldn’t survive without their parents. It was heart-breaking.”
 
Nelson had returned to his 14-acre plot near Wootton Bassett to discover that the Ministry of Agriculture, against whom he had been waging a fierce and occasionally violent war, had once more been on his land.
 
They had pumped deadly cyanide into a sett, killing a pair of badgers. Nelson remembers the agony of watching the two babies of the slaughtered creatures’ helplessly crawling around only to die a few days later in spite of his and his wife Phyllis’ efforts to save them.
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/10623761.Remembering_the_man_who_fought_Ministry_tooth_and_nail_for_creatures_he_adored/ ?
 
becky
DOOMED BADGERS MUST NOT BE TRAPPED IN BAD WEATHER says Badger Trust in its latest press release today.
 
Badgers could be trapped for hours inside cages in appalling winter weather conditions as a result of the Coalition’s desperate attempts to reach its killing target for the Gloucestershire pilot trial, says the Badger Trust. It is calling for assurances that no animals will be exposed to such unacceptable risk.
 
Until December 1st the animals, including some pregnant females, could be trapped in the open for up to 18 hours. Only free shooting could continue beyond this date [1].
 
The extension means that Defra’s own welfare guidelines are being broken, says the Trust, which is calling for assurances that no animals would be exposed to such unacceptable treatment.
 
Badger expert Dr Chris Cheeseman told the Trust that considerable local knowledge and field experience were necessary to decide when to stop trapping before the onset of wintry weather. People conducting trapping operations in the pilot cull areas would need to prove they had the necessary experience. He added that the companies contracted to do the killing would be under pressure to kill a high proportion of the population, and it was doubtful whether they would exercise due diligence in their efforts to catch as many badgers as possible.
 
Official reports and guidelines have repeatedly insisted on attention to welfare:
 
Scientists conducting the £50 million Randomised Badger Culling Trial took welfare into account in the design of methods. The 2007 report on the trial [2] said some trapping methods would entail suffering, and that meeting concerns over badger welfare was essential to the integrity of the trial, both as an experiment and as an assessment of a potential policy. This led to the concept of the “closed season” on all culling, from 1 February to 30 April (inclusive) every year, partly to avoid cubs starving underground if a lactating female was shot. In any event, cage trapping was known to be far less effective in the winter months. (Woodroffe,1995).
 
The Coalition’s Policy on Bovine TB and badger control in England (2011) says either “controlled shooting” or cage trapping and shooting can be used singly or in combination [3]. Since the former has now clearly failed cage trapping at an increasingly bad time of year is a greater possibility. The policy also says: “Both control methods must be carried out with due regard to animal welfare. For cage-trapping and shooting the badgers must not be left in cages for prolonged periods, or subjected to unacceptable climatic conditions.
 
Cage trapping for vaccination purposes is also limited. Defra’s Veterinary Guidelines on use of BadgerBCG [4] stipulated the closed seasons: between December 1st and April 30th inclusive in England. The guidelines say: “This is on welfare grounds to prevent trapping of lactating females with unweaned dependant cubs and to prevent exposure of badgers during adverse weather.
 
The Policy on Bovine TB and badger control in England also says [3]: “In the winter, the closed season aims to protect trapped badgers from poor weather conditions. In the spring, it aims to minimise the risk of removing lactating sows and so leaving dependent cubs underground. The timing of these seasons has been set using evidence from culling during the RBCT and expert ecological advice”.
 
A Natural England spokesman told the Western Daily Press [5] that the open season for cage trapping badgers ends two months before the one for controlled shooting (December 1 as opposed to February 1) to help to avoid exposing trapped badgers to severe weather conditions. The Government’s best practice guidelines recommended the suspension of trapping where there was a risk of extreme exposure. Licensed operators would be responsible for assessing the severity of the local weather conditions and whether the terrain offered shelter.
 
Refs.
1, www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/licence-ws-Oct2013_tcm6-36864.pdf?dm_i=1NFN,1YBXF,906LDO,71LIX,1
 
2. Para 2.28 http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/isg/report/final_report.pdf?dm_i=1NFN,1YBXF,906LDO,70RID,1
 
3. Paras 5.38 and 5.43
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69463/pb13691-bovinetb-policy-statement.pdf?dm_i=1NFN,1YBXF,906LDO,70RIE,1
 
4. http://www.defra.gov.uk/ahvla-en/files/vetGuidelines.pdf
 
5. http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Fears-badgers-drown-freeze-death-traps-bad/story-20007702-detail/story.html?dm_i=1NFN,1YBXF,906LDO,70RIG,1#ixzz2jayGVppg
 
becky
As the UK's badger cull sputters to its dismal conclusion, wildlife researcher Nicola Weber explains why the killing is likely to lead to more, not fewer, infections of cattle with tuberculosis. The research is based on tracking badgers. See article at: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/2143480/tuberculosis_tracking_devices_and_the_social_...
 
becky
One of the badger cull pilot schemes failed to meet its target - even after a three-week extension, the government has admitted.
 
The cull ended on 1 November 2013, with an estimated 65% reduction in the badger population in the west Somerset cull zone - the target was 70%.
 
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said 940 badgers were shot in total (90 killed during the extended period).
 

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