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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?

Vets slam the government's badger cull in two new open letters
Two new open letters signed by vets and animal rights groups have added fresh perspective to growing criticism of the badger cull.
Badger cull cruelty
Vet Record, the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) official journal, published a letter on 19 October calling for:
the BVA to withdraw its support for any further licensed badger culling
Titled Animal welfare impacts of badger culling operations, it highlights footage released on 30 September. In the video, a badger keeps moving for nearly a minute after being shot. Meanwhile, a cull contractor looks on. The open letter says this breaches “current Natural England best practice”. And it also “raises serious questions” about the capability of contractors in relation to badger welfare.
The letter, signed by vets from wildlife protection group Born Free, goes on to say:
The veterinary profession has no business supporting this licensed mass killing with all its inherent negative welfare and biosecurity implications, and for which the disease control benefits are, at best, extremely uncertain.
And it states that ongoing support for the cull by “veterinary bodies” could damage the profession’s reputation.
“Comprehensive approach”
The BVA responded in a statement published alongside Animal welfare impacts on badger culling operations. While refusing to comment on the video, senior vice president John Fishwick says the body hasn’t “shied away from challenging practice in the past”. He also points out the BVA’s concern for trapped badgers during the summer heat.
The response says the:
BVA supports a comprehensive approach to tackling bTB that should include control measures in cattle alongside simultaneous and coordinated measures in badgers, other wildlife and susceptible farmed species.
Fishwick goes on to say the body’s approach is based on evidence and epidemiology. He also says the BVA believes the “the methods used in badger cull areas must be humane”. But the response doesn’t comment directly on claims of the cull’s “uncertain” effects on controlling bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Meanwhile, another open letter tackled exactly this issue.
Misleading figures
In a letter published by the Network for Animals on 20 October, another group called for the government to withdraw claims about the badger cull.
On 13 September, DEFRA announced success in two cull pilot areas. It said zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset showed reductions in new bTB outbreaks amongst cattle. But doubts were quickly raised by the Wildlife Trusts and by Rosie Woodroffe from the Zoological Society of London, as The Canary previously reported.
Now, a group of senior vets have detailed concerns about the government’s figures. The letter points to the difference between ‘incidence’ and ‘prevalence’. The former is what DEFRA’s September claim is based on. But the letter says:
Greater clarity [on bTB control] can be obtained by focusing on prevalence rather than incidence.
The cull’s impact appears different when looking at prevalence. In the three years leading up to the start of the pilots, the letter says, bTB prevalence fell in both areas. Once culling began, however, prevalence remained stable. It goes on to say:
Put simply, there are approximately the same proportion of bTB affected herds now, as there were before culling started. Badger culling has not resulted in a decrease in bTB in cattle in cull zones, for the prevalence remains unchanged.
In addition, the letter airs concerns that DEFRA hasn’t made its data public and calls for the government to release this information.
The 2018 badger cull is expected to kill up to 40,000 badgers. As in previous years, it has been the target of direct action by saboteurs. This year, though, has resulted in heavy-handed law enforcement. In early October, three people from Liverpool Hunt Saboteurs faced armed response while taking action in Cheshire. And in late September, Devon and Cornwall Police said drones could be used to monitor activists.
Evidence is catching up to the strength of passion from campaigners and activists. Blatant animal cruelty is bringing the cull to the doorstep of the country’s top veterinary body. The government’s massaged numbers are losing credibility. And experts are starting to ask if it’s human bad practice rather than uncontrolled wildlife that’s to blame.
For Britain’s badger, change can’t come soon enough.
Minister’s claim badger cull cuts cattle TB is attacked by experts
Jamie DowardSun 21 Oct 2018 06.00 BST
George Eustice’s boast that government strategy is working called untrue by vets and animal specialists
Government claims that the controversial badger cull is reducing tuberculosis rates in cattle have been undermined by a group of leading vets and animal welfare experts who have shared data that, they say, confirms it has made no difference.
Last month the farming minister George Eustice said: “Reductions in TB cases in Somerset and Gloucestershire are evidence that our strategy is delivering results.” But the group, which includes Iain McGill, the former government vet who helped expose the BSE cover-up, Adam Grogan, head of wildlife at the RSPCA, and Mark Jones, head of policy at the Born Free Foundation, disagrees.
In a letter, published in edited form in today’s Observer, and in full on the Network For Animals website, they are among 15 signatories who claim that “when ministerial statements are used as justification for the slaughter of badgers on an industrial scale ... it is vital that they ... reflect the best available veterinary and scientific advice”.
The agriculture ministry’s claims are based on the “incidence rate” – calculated by examining the number of new cases of TB in cattle herds. However, the signatories claim this approach, using “complex and sometimes obscure calculations”, is wrong. They suggest the focus should be on the percentage of cattle herds in badger culling zones which have the disease at a specific point in time.
Their letter states: “Examination of that data ... demonstrates no reduction in the prevalence of bTB (bovine TB) infected herds in Gloucestershire or Somerset as a result of culling.”
It continues: “The prevalence in cattle is no lower than it was before culling, despite the killing and removal of 1,879 badgers in Gloucestershire and 1,777 in Somerset. A total of 3,656 badgers have been killed with no perceivable disease control benefits.”
There is now public disquiet at the violence and animal suffering associated with the badger cull
In Gloucestershire the prevalence of the disease fell to 6.9% in the three years running up to the cull before plateauing at 7.1% after four years of culling. In Somerset it fell successively for the three years up to the cull to 6.1%, before rising to 7.2% after four years of culling.
“There are approximately the same proportion of bTB affected herds now as there were before culling started,” the signatories claim. “Badger culling has not resulted in a decrease in bTB in cattle in cull zones ... Any statement made to the contrary is untrue.”
The Zoological Society of London claims there is “no robust evidence that England’s policy of mass culling” is reducing TB in cattle. The signatories call on Eustice to withdraw his statement. “When proven harm is committed to animals on a very large scale, accompanied by documented animal abuse and ... unaccompanied by any disease control benefits, the only option for any responsible government is to abandon the policy immediately,” they write.
The Oxford mafia exposed
By August 2016, as more badger killing was announced, I began to realise the awful truth. The badger protection movement, with the exception of a handful of informed people had joined with the ISG scientists to uphold ‘the ISG science’, unreliably based upon badgers giving bTB to cattle with significant frequency. They were supported by a number of Oxford University academics although I noted this was on more general terms than the ISG specifics. Speaking out were some who were behind the scenes in setting up the 1997 Krebs review and the RBCT in the first place. On checking and double checking, many closest to the issue either did not want to accept my analysis or even to talk about it, which just seemed suspicious. Some wanted it covered up for tactical reasons. The phrase ’reputational damage’ was used more than once.
Farmers need a better understanding of TB
By Matthew Limb
Many farmers’ understanding of bovine TB is so poor it is ‘frightening’, according to the lead vet for a scheme supporting efforts to eradicate the disease in Wales.
Katie Rose, who leads the Cymorth TB programme for the APHA in Wales, said farmers were ‘blaming badgers for everything that happens on their farms’ when they should be doing more to improve biosecurity and disease control.
Rose was speaking last week at the Official Veterinarian (OV) conference in Swindon.
Her comments came as the Welsh government rejected a call by the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) for proactive badger culling in an Intensive Action Area (IAA) in Wales to be reinstated.
PBD Biotech have developed a new faster and more accurate way of testing cattle for TB. Badgers not to blame for bTB.
But Dr Berwyn Clarke, chief executive of start-up firm PBD Biotech, based at Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, believes the issue is not the badger - which has been the subject of a controversial government-organised cull over the last few years - but rather that the disease lies undiscovered in herds until it’s too late, because of the lack of a reliable test for it.
Or at least until now. Dr Clarke and a team at Nottingham university have worked on transforming a much older human diagnostic technology into a product which can be used on livestock and come up with a fast and accurate test result.
See forum post on 'Skin Test' for more info.
Flawed badger cull expands across England
The Wildlife Trusts call on government: invest in medicine not marksmen
The government has given permission for badger culls to go ahead in England for another year. Badgers are now at risk in 11 new badger cull zones, in addition to the existing areas of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Cornwall, Devon, Herefordshire, Cheshire and Wiltshire.
The Wildlife Trusts believe that the government’s strategy is flawed because bTB is primarily a cattle problem, not a wildlife one [1] and makes no sense at a time when a review of the government strategy which drives the culls – the bovine TB eradication strategy – is still underway [2]. Only 1 in 20 cases of bTB herd infections are transmitted directly from badgers [1], thus, culling badgers is not the answer and it is also counterproductive. Culling disrupts badgers’ social structure, causing them to move around more frequently and over longer distances – which can result in increased bTB transmission.
The Wildlife Trusts have opposed badger culling for well over a decade and most recently have written to Secretary of State, Michael Gove, to highlight the flaws of the badger cull and request that the cull be ended in favour of strategic and widespread badger vaccination schemes, and to invest in developing a cattle vaccine. Yet again, this has not happened.
Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager, The Wildlife Trusts says:
“It is unacceptable that the government has not waited for the results of their own review – which we understand is to be published imminently – before forging ahead with another year of ineffective and expensive badger culling. The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bTB transmission in cattle which is between cattle. [1]
“The Wildlife Trusts have been involved in this debate for over ten years. In 2008 we successfully persuaded the Labour Government not to go ahead with a badger cull. In 2012 we helped stop the initial badger cull pilot in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Simultaneously, we have led the way in demonstrating that badger vaccination would be a far more effective route, accompanied with strict biosecurity controls, movement controls and robust cattle testing regimes.
“We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen. The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them – it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger” [3,4].
Research has found that bTB bacteria can survive for months either on fields or in slurry [5]. Strict biosecurity procedures are key to tackle this key route of the spread of bTB. Defra should provide as much support as possible to farmers to make sure these procedures and rigorous tests are in place. This approach would contribute considerably to reducing the spread of bTB between cattle and badgers.
bTB can have a devastating impact on the lives of farmers. The Wildlife Trusts continue to work with farmers to find solutions that work for everyone. Badger vaccination is cost-effective, and it works. It reduces the incidence, severity and long-term vulnerability of badger groups to the disease [6]. If government strategy must focus on badgers, this approach offers a far more effective, cheaper and low-risk way to reduce bTB in badger populations.
The government has promised to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation. Continuing and expanding the badger cull runs counter to this promise and risks pushing one of our protected native species to the verge of local extinction.
The Wildlife Trusts call on the government to:
Halt the badger cull now.
Invest in and promote a strategy for badger vaccination. This should be led and funded by the government, across England.
Invest more time and resource in further research into farm biosecurity and movement controls. We need to know what works.
Accelerate development of more effective tests for bTB in cattle and put serious investment into a bTB cattle vaccine. This is a cattle problem, not a wildlife problem.
The Wildlife Trusts are urging people to write to their MPs asking them to help stop the cull.
[1] Badgers are responsible for around 6% of all new bTB breakdowns in cattle. See: Donnelly, CA & Nouvellet, P., 2013. The Contribution of Badgers to Confirmed Tuberculosis in Cattle in High-Incidence Areas in England. PLoS Currents: Outbreaks. http://currents.plos.org/outbreaks/article/the-contribution-of-badger-to-cattle-tb-incidence-in-high-cattle-incidence-areas/
[2] Charles Godfray was asked by Defra to chair the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) Strategy review. The aim of this review is to “reflect on progress being made with implementation of the bTB Strategy and consider how to take the Strategy to the next phase.” The review began in March and is due to be completed by the end of September 2018.
The terms of reference for this groups is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-strategy-for-achieving-bovine-tuberculosis-free-status-for-england-2018-review/bovi...
[3] The cost per badger of vaccination by Wildlife Trusts was calculated using data from 2015 which is the most recent data available. Wildlife Trusts vaccinated 949 badgers, which cost a total of £78,042.25. Cost per dose is £82
[4] The cost of the cull per badger in England was calculated using figures from the badger cull in 2016. Figures for costs to government and the police† was divided by the number of badgers culled††. This gives a cost per badger of £496.51.
[5] Woodroffe et al., 2016. Badgers prefer cattle pasture but avoid cattle: implications for bovine tuberculosis control. Ecology Letters, 19: 1201-1208. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12654/full
[6] Chambers, M.A., Carter, S.P., Wilson, G.J., Jones, G., Brown, E., Hewinson, R.G. & Vordermeier, M., 2014. Vaccination against tuberculosis in badgers and cattle: an overview of the challenges, developments and current research priorities in Great Britain. Veterinary Record, 175: 90-96.
Badger Cull Ecological Impacts Legal Challenges
• Badger Crowd vows to fight on as challenges dismissed.
• Natural England breached Habitats Regulation Duty but High Court fails to quash Badger Cull licences.
• Supplementary Culling set to continue in 2018.
• Appeal of judgements under active consideration.
In a disappointing High Court ruling, Judge Sir Ross Cranston has determined that under Section 31(2A) of the Senior Courts Act 1981, badger cull licences need not be quashed. This is despite acknowledging that government quango Natural England has not correctly recorded badger culling impact assessments near to badger culling areas for several years.
In the run up to the July Hearings, Natural England made a surprise declaration that even though they do not believe that carnivore release effects are significant in England, they have adequate bird monitoring systems across England to detect carnivore community disruption in protected ecosystems affected by badger culling and will react to any findings. No details were provided but the judge found ‘comfort’ in Natural England’s promises.
On the challenge to Supplementary Culling, which is the decision to keep on culling badgers permanently if necessary after four years of intensive culling, the judgement was that the consultation starting December 2016 was not unfair. It was found to be acceptable for Defra not to make public disclosure of discounted alternative approaches, including the original and previously adhered to RBCT-based ‘cull and stop’ over nine years approach. Defra’s stated view was that past expert science analysis was ‘obsolete’ in favour of a new objective of ‘a numbers game’; simply to try to keep badger numbers reduced at or around 30% of the original population ‘guesstimates’ and until bovine TB has been eradicated.
Claimant Tom Langton acting for the Badger Crowd, a large and growing group of badger supporters and members of the pubic taking legal action against badger culling said:
‘’Aspects of the rulings seem unclear and our lawyers are looking closely at Grounds for Appeal, hence our comment is limited at this stage. In the past, these difficult cases (such as that taken in Wales) have only been won on Appeal. We owe this to badgers, wildlife, farmers and it is in the interests of healthy livestock. Our countryside deserves protection and competent management.
The government appears to be able to develop policy in private with selected industry stakeholders. It has authority on scientific matters and is apparently entitled to choose science or a lack of it to fit the policy of the moment. Key warnings by leading experts have been sidestepped and approaches seem to match the aims of economic expedience rather than any real attempt to halt the misery of the cattle tuberculosis epidemic in England.
Natural England will now have to disclose details of their monitoring system for the various nature reserves in and around cull areas in England. Details of the recently announced specially planned bird monitoring programmes now underway for all badger cull areas containing protected sites will be of very wide public interest.
We still have under consideration our challenge of the 2017 badger culling licences relating to damage to Sites of Special Scientific Interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. We have also initiated a challenge against the May 2018 Policy plans for a new kind of approach based upon reactive badger culling in the Low Risk Area of East England that in the past has been shown to make Bovine TB worse. This is another disaster in the making.
We would like to thank again everyone who has donated generously to get to this stage and to reassure them that we will continue to fight in the courts and using all lawful means to bring badger culling to an end in England so that the key causes of Bovine TB spread can be properly attacked.’’
Further Information
The Badger Crowd is a support and fundraising coalition including Badger Groups and Trusts around the UK, the wildlife charity Born Free and hundreds of individuals via crowd funding appeals. Many generous private donations have been made and particular thanks are due to Badger Trust Sussex and The Badger Trust.
Ecologist Tom Langton has fronted challenges with support from ‘The Badger Crowd’. His legal team is Richard Turney and Ben Fullbrook from Landmark Chambers (London) and solicitor Lisa Foster of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law (Cambridge). Dominic Woodfield of the ecological consultancy Bioscan UK is a key witness concerning ecological impacts.
The Badger Crowd believes that legal challenges are 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 bTB epidemic worse.
The ‘remarkable’ number of foxhounds reportedly killed because of bovine TB has just quadrupled
Nearly 100 foxhounds from a single hunt have been killed because of bovine tuberculosis (bTB), a recently published study reveals. This is four times more than originally confirmed by the Kimblewick Hunt. And this news arrives around the time badger culling normally begins.
97 dead hounds
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh published An outbreak of tuberculosis due to Mycobacterium bovis infection in a pack of English Foxhounds on 31 July. It investigates the Kimblewick Hunt, whose hounds were killed following an outbreak of bTB in December 2016.
The story originally broke in March 2017. At the time, “about 25 hounds” were put down, the Kimblewick Hunt claimed. But the recently released University of Edinburgh report confirms [paywall] 97 hounds were killed.
In December 2017 a report [pdf, p32] was prepared by Prof Stephen Harris and Dr Jo Dorning. In the UK bTB is rarely recorded in dogs. Only eight cases were diagnosed in dogs from 1993 to 2009 … and these were invariably isolated cases… Thus the number of hounds infected with bTB at the Kimblewick Hunt is particular remarkable.
The actual figure, therefore, comes as a bombshell.
While the report suggested [pdf, p43] an “infected carcase” fed to the hounds might be the source of bTB infection among the Kimblewick Hunt’s hounds, the University of Edinburgh report is less clear. It says:
The likelihood of feeding infected material to the hounds at this kennel was consequently assessed as low, but with a medium level of uncertainty regarding prevalence of carcase infection and dose–response in dogs.
The report also looks at three other possible routes of infection. Exposure to livestock or wildlife with bTB while outside the kennels; infected wildlife entering the kennels; and already infected hounds entering the kennels. The first two routes are unlikely. The latter was most likely due to a number of dogs from other kennels located in high-risk bTB areas entering the Kimblewick Hunt’s kennels.
The researchers also highlighted kennel conditions as a major factor. Overcrowding of hounds allowed “an ideal opportunity” for bTB to break out. This high density may also have stressed the animals, making them more liable for infection. And kennel buildings in “sub-optimal” states of repair meant proper disinfection was impossible.
The investigation also discovered that one human had subsequently contracted latent TB.
Hunts, the invisible vector?
Infection of bTB in hunting hounds is significant because they have received sparse attention as a transmitter of the disease. While the government’s preferred strategy of culling badgers continues to expand, the Kimblewick Hunt hounds show that other factors are at work.
At the time of infection, there were 35 known cases of bTB amongst cattle herds in the area covered by the Kimblewick Hunt. Just four months later, in April 2017, there were 90.
Harris and Dorning’s report lays out a number of risks posed by infected hunting hounds. These include the animals travelling through farms and farmland during a day’s hunting. Hunting hounds also have lower veterinary standards than domestic dogs. These and other risks mean hunts haven’t received proper scrutiny in their role as possible spreaders of bTB.
Letter sent by Martin Hancox.
Dear Michael Gove , Prof Charles Godfray , ben.goldsmith@menhaden.com
Badgers have historically been blamed for ""The spread of cattle TB " under three very simple key mistaken headings :-
1 . half the breakdowns in the last southwest hotspots were unconfirmed breakdowns , caused by bought-in newly infected reactors which DID catch TB in the previous breakdown. Zuckerman 1980 wrongly assumed these No Visible Lesion NVL/Unconfirmeds did NOT have TB, so a bit illogically must have caught it from a mythical self-sustaining reservoir of badger TB. But the few and only TB badgers "out there" have merely caught TB from cows, and occur as a dead-end spillover , which are never going to be infectious enough to pass TB back to cows. Just 1515 TB badgers out of 11,000 culled from 1900 sq.km. in RBCT. The LRA licensing consultation found only 1 of the 21 potential badger hotspots , 2004-2017 had any TB badgers, just 5 out of 35 in the Shap/Cumbria Irish bought-in study.
SO, badgers have never been the actual cause of this scatter of new herd breakdowns after all.
2. Particularly damaging is the Rosie Woodroffe/ ISG model which misinterprets the RBCT data in claiming a halving of cattle TB, despite an initial "Badger cull Perturbation effect" in the buffer ring outside proactive cull areas . The actual cull of 1515 TB badgers had ZERO effect on cattle TB. Halving TB was simply via 5-7 years of normal cattle controls. And although it has been published in a couple of dozen peer reviewed top journals, there WAS NO Cull to perturb the badgers in the outside buffer ring. The Tripling in cattle TB in all 60 RBCT trial areas (30 + 30 buffers) was simply the accumulated reactors, from 2001 foot & mouth with no cattle testing. Ditto in Wales and Ulster with no badger culls, no perturbation rise in Eire as they did not suspend testing ! Very clear in the new Moustakas cattle TB model paper DOI:10.1038/s41467-018-04915-0 (very simple link via TB Free below, and in above Ceasefire 30 Scientists opposed cull 12 Oct 2012 observer).
3. Wales , still c 60 herds with chronic TB . The hilariously silly "licensed badger cull for chronic herds", cost £380,000 and yielded just 5 TB badgers from the 3 farms sampled 2017 . So Glossop has painfully and expensively re-discovered that badgers are not the problem. The Devon Gatscombe herd went clear after 5 years restriction, using the new IDEXX Ab and Actiphage tests, to remove the skin test non-reactor culprit cow. No badger cull needed, and although c. 25 % of badgers caught TB from this chronic herd, they did not immediately reinfect the herd either.
SO, despite the 47 year old "highly complex and emotive debate " , badgers have never been the actual problem in the first place ; merely innocent bystanders . So culls must be unlawful under the 1992 Badgers Act, since they have 0 effect on the spread of cattle TB by cattle , in DEFRA/APHA's own Report 2017.
sincerely, Martin Hancox
Death of Debate www.badgersandtb.com https://Bit.ly/20JSGpR Ecologist Alas poor brock
VERY USEFUL LINKS via Facebook below... the farcical wales cull, Moustakas, Mark Jones Vet Rec supplementary culls,
and TB in hounds , both Kimberball & Ireland.
TB Free England - Home
4 mins ·
Judgement is due in August, yet our cynical Government appears to have already started culling again...
French government scientists have published evidence that foxes can carry and transmit bovine TB - yes we knew that - any mammal can! So, is it sensible to allow hunting to continue? Probably not. My own experience talking to a hunter last year revealed he had brought his hounds out to hunt despite have a TB breakdown in his herd. I passed this info to the WAG but they were not interested and said little could be done!
Apparently earlier this year Kimblewick Hunt culled 25 of its hounds after an outbreak of TB!
Government advisers are being accused of allowing caged badgers to die of thirst or heat stroke as a badger cull is undwerway in this week’s record temperatures.
Campaigners are stepping up pressure on environment secretary Michael Gove to cancel licences extending the cull into new areas, because of the heatwave.
They fear that animals trapped during the official cull across hundreds of acres of countryside are being left for hours on end in the sun, with no water.
With temperatures having reached up to 33C in some areas of England, wildlife activists believe Natural England, the government advisory body that issues cull licences, is failing to enforce its own guidelines on the cull, which say marksmen must suspend trapping if animals would be exposed to extremes of weather.
The Badger Trust has written to Natural England chiefs calling for an immediate halt to trapping, saying that in temperatures of 30c or more it is inhumane.
“This is a serious animal-welfare issue. We are likely to see hundreds of badgers trapped in cages in blazing hot sunshine with no access to water or shade – it’s horrendous,” said Dominic Dyer, head of the Badger Trust. “The supplementary cull licences should be revoked.”
Government advisers are being accused of allowing caged badgers to die of thirst or heat stroke as a badger cull is undwerway in this week’s record temperatures.
Campaigners are stepping up pressure on environment secretary Michael Gove to cancel licences extending the cull into new areas, because of the heatwave.
They fear that animals trapped during the official cull across hundreds of acres of countryside are being left for hours on end in the sun, with no water.
With temperatures having reached up to 33C in some areas of England, wildlife activists believe Natural England, the government advisory body that issues cull licences, is failing to enforce its own guidelines on the cull, which say marksmen must suspend trapping if animals would be exposed to extremes of weather.
The Badger Trust has written to Natural England chiefs calling for an immediate halt to trapping, saying that in temperatures of 30c or more it is inhumane.
“This is a serious animal-welfare issue. We are likely to see hundreds of badgers trapped in cages in blazing hot sunshine with no access to water or shade – it’s horrendous,” said Dominic Dyer, head of the Badger Trust. “The supplementary cull licences should be revoked.”
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."
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.
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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.
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.
Best wishes,
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.
George Monbiot published an article in the Guardian on 4th July which can be read online here:
If you are able you can donate to help pay for future legal work at:
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”.
... 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.”
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.
Yours sincerely,
Martin Hancox, ex-government TB Panel.
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.
Info from: http://www.fwi.co.uk/livestock/government-faces-fresh-legal-challenges-badger-cull-extension.htm

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