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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?

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
We used to defend evidence, now we're defending a lack of evidence. Vets criticise government on TB proposals
Vets are concerned that the government has not carefully thought through its proposals on controlling bovine TB.
They fear recent proposals to extend badger culling have been rushed through, lack an evidence base and mean culls are increasingly led by industry rather than government.
They also worry that the long-held ambition to eradicate bovine TB is being confused by a new – and unrealistic – ambition to eradicate the disease in wildlife too.
The issue was discussed at last week’s BVA Council meeting, as the association published its response to two government consultations – one on removing restrictions on culling licenses and one on extending badger culling in the area of the country where bovine TB is low risk. This would provide an option to commence culling should hot spots of infectivity occur.
Vet Record http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/182/17/473?rss=1 and Vet Record Journal 28/4/18

Badger cull fueling illegal wildlife crimes
Nearly 1,300 incidents involving wildlife were recorded in 2016 alone, a report has found.
The actual number of incidents is also likely to be "far greater" as the Home Office currently categorises many of the crimes as miscellaneous.
In 2016, there were 612 reports of incidents against badgers, 145 involving bats, 366 regarding marine mammals and 155 with birds of prey across England and Wales - 1,278 in total.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, said: "There is a correlation between the cull and wildlife crime in general and the numbers provided in the report are just the tip of the iceberg.
"The problem around the country is that people feel that they can use the badger cull as a legitimate excuse to commit wildlife crimes and take the law into their own hands.
"We have a growing problem with animals, particularly badgers and birds, being shot and there is growing concern that it is getting out of control."
If the government's proposals go ahead, It would seem they are intent on removing badgers from the UK. This would be devastating.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the decision to (a) extend the badger cull in low risk areas and (b) remove the ten area cap limit on badger culling will be made after the conclusion of Sir Charles Godfray's review into the TB strategy.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Any decision to extend the badger cull to the Low Risk Area of England and remove the annual ten area limit on badger culling will be made separately to the TB strategy review. The decision will be made following the conclusion and analysis of responses from the current consultations, alongside relevant scientific evidence and veterinary advice.
The review, led by Sir Charles Godfray, will reflect on progress to date with the broad range of interventions to fight the disease outlined in the 25 year TB strategy. It will consider what additional actions might be necessary now to ensure other tools and interventions are ready to be deployed in later phases of the strategy, in order to ensure the Government maintains progress towards its target of becoming officially TB free by 2038. The review is expected to conclude by September 2018.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the evidential basis is for the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing TB in cattle in low risk areas.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The evidential basis for the effectiveness of badger culling in the Low Risk Area, where infection in cattle is linked to infection in badgers, is the same as in the High Risk Area - that is, the randomised badger control trial.
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of extending badger culling on local ecosystems; and whether an extension is in compliance with the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The effect of badger culling on local ecosystems is considered by Natural England as part of its licensing of the companies responsible for carrying out culling operations. Where appropriate, Natural England imposes conditions on licences so as to protect wildlife or habitats within and around the culling areas.
When determining the appropriate operation in any particular area, responsibilities under the Bern Convention are taken into account.

Comment from Martin Hancox, email 6 April 2018
Dear Michael Gove, George Eustice, Lesley Griffiths, Michael Creed, Michelle McIlveen,
Badgers are still widely blamed for being "The main cause of the spread of cattle/ bovine TB", But, cognitive dissonance, the very few and only badgers with TB, have just caught it from the preceding cattle herd breakdown, and are dead-end spillover hosts, which by definition are never going to be infectious enough to pass TB back to cows. So there is absolutely not point in culling or vaccinating them ! So, alas, egg on very red faces , when your "scientific advisers" wake up over 2 absurdly simple very costly mistakes. A. It is almost unbelievable, but the whole 47 year old "highly complex and emotive debate" on badgers and TB hinges on the twin mistaken beliefs that :-
1. there is a widespread self-sustaining reservoir of badger TB "out there" , and 2. that it was generating the scatter of new herd breakdowns... but even at Woodchester Park in map below, badger TB actually occurs as a very temporary spillover from cows to a dead-end transient host micro-pocket, which never becomes infectious enough to pass TB back to cows, so TB dies out quite rapidly if not topped up from cattle !
B. And tragically, this mistake was perpetuated in the mistaken Interpretation of the RBCT Randomised Badger Culling Trial that the cull halved cattle TB. A mere 1515 TB badgers out of 11,000 culled merely dead-end spillovers. The MAFF Magician's three Optical Delusions ; 3 Spectacularly illogical epidemiological absurdities !!
Rapid dissemination of Mycobacterium bovis from cattle dung to soil by the earthworm Lumbricus terrestris. - PubMed - NCBI
Interesting - rarely gets a mention. Draw your own conclusions, of which there are many.
West Sussex vet Maarten Boers claims “irresponsible” farmers are spreading bovine TB among cattle in the county.
Farmers are quick to blame the badger for this,” said Mr Boers, one of two directors of The Livestock Partnership based in Petworth, West Sussex. “But the problem lies with the farming community more than they like to think.”
After years of only a few cases in West Sussex, the last few weeks and months have seen a flurry of cases, Mr Boers said. About 10 cattle farms across the county are now infected with bovine TB
West Sussex is supposed to be a low risk for the disease, and Hampshire next door is meant to be an “edge area” buffer zone against bovine TB spreading from the West Country, a high risk area. Part of East Sussex is the only exception which has the disease in the low risk area east of Hampshire and West Sussex.
By spoligotyping – which is DNA finger printing the strains of bovine TB – it is possible to tell where the disease comes from. “DNA finger printing the recent cases has been pointing to the West Country as the source for West Sussex,” Mr Boers said.
He deals with a lot of dairy farms in West Sussex, and nearly all are closed herds which breed their own replacements. At this time of year, said Mr Boers, beef farmers and finishers need more animals to graze ground. They contact local dealers, who organise the transport of store cattle from the West Country markets at Salisbury, Exeter and Frome to be finished in West Sussex.
Those defending the trade argue that the animals leaving the West Country will have been compulsorily tested for TB. “But the test is only about 70% effective, so some animals are bound to get through.” In addition, infection could be spread in other ways – on the wheel arches of livestock lorries or on wellington boots, said Mr Boers.
The culprits can be counted on the fingers of one hand, added Mr Boers. “I cannot disclose their names because I have a professional code of conduct which does not let me reveal customers’ details.” He has approached the NFU and DEFRA vets to try to find a solution to the West Country trade. “But the vets say it is not the job of civil servants to make policy and the NFU says it does not want to hinder members’ trade. But the NFU can lobby politicians to stop this. The trouble is that the few doing the trade are threatening the livelihoods of many more.”
Info from: http://www.southeastfarmer.net/section/news/farmers-to-blame-for-bovine-tb-in-west-sussex
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa has written to the Government to voice his support for “vaccination over culling” in the prevention of tuberculosis (TB) in badgers. The Commissioner expressed his concerns about the shooting of badgers in the Derbyshire countryside in a letter to the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It follows the Government’s announcement that badgers may be culled in eight new counties in England – including Derbyshire - as part of its strategy to control the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
Bovine TB is a disease affecting cattle and is predominantly spread by cattle. Wildlife experts say the development of a cattle vaccination and tough restrictions on the movement of cattle will successfully stop the spread of the disease.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has been leading the way in the vaccination of badgers, undertaking the largest-ever vaccination programme in the country involving more than 100 volunteers. This year alone, the Trust received £190,000 in government funding to further expand its programme to almost 90sq km.
The Trust said applications to shoot badgers by landowners in Derbyshire have already been received by the Government and strongly opposes such action. Mr Dhindsa said: “Derbyshire is at the forefront of a vaccination programme to limit the spread of this disease and there are no grounds, either scientifically or economically, to cull badgers.
“Badgers are a protected species under the 1992 Badger Protection Act and evidence shows that shooting badgers is not a viable solution to the spread of bovine TB. If this is the case, then it doesn’t make sense to pursue an expensive culling programme at the cost of the taxpayer.
“I am urging the Government to reconsider its position and to continue to invest in the vaccination programme in this county and beyond to protect what remains a threatened species for future generations.”
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust says research has shown bovine TB is not transmitted by direct contact between cattle and badgers but through contaminated pasture and dung. It says culling badgers is unjustified and costly and that vaccination remains the only answer.
It costs approximately £80 to vaccinate a badger which is far less than the reported £6,000 it costs to shoot one.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is also concern
Info from: http://www.ruralalert.co.uk/da/212683/PCC_calls_for_Government_rethink_on_badger_cull_in_Derbyshire.html
Former Deputy Chief Vet Alick Simmons has said:
Spent my career controlling livestock disease. Eradication of the bTB organism is impossible in the UK. The public health risk is under control - and has been since around c.1960. Why waste £millions and kill our native wildlife on a hopeless cause.

Speaking on the current proposals to extend badger culling to many other areas of England, George Bennett, who runs Sandy Lane Farm near Blackbird Leys, Oxford, with his wife Kate, said he knew dairy farmers hit by 'devastating' TB, but said he still had not seen conclusive evidence that killing badgers would help tackle the disease.
He said: "The spread of TB does not affect us because we don't have cattle, but I think the badger cull is unnecessary.
"Everything I have heard about badger culling has been inconclusive.
"The way we managed pests and diseases is having a balance ecosystem, and if you take any one species out of the ecosystem then something will get out of control."
In 2017, a total of 19,274 badgers were culled across eight counties.
See the consultation online at consult.defra.gov.uk/natural-england/8899f8e7
Info from: http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/16073053.__39_Please_comment_on_badger_cull_plan_for_Oxfordshire__39_/
As Tories set to roll out futile, needless cruel and expensive badger cull to even more areas, there are concerns there will be local extinction of our iconic mammal.
In the three months running up to December 2017, over 20,000 of our largest native omnivores have fallen foul of the Tory piecemeal cull – a band aid move to appease the National Farmers Union in the fight to combat bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
In the three months running up to December 2017, over 20,000 of our largest native omnivores have fallen foul of the Tory piecemeal cull – a band aid move to appease the National Farmers Union in the fight to combat bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
Badger cull protestors gathered outside Defra in London this week.
The environmental impact of what could now very easily become local extinction is devastating. Known as trophic cascade, it catalogues the impact of the removal of just one species on the surrounding environment. In the case of badgers, that number of negatively impacted British species is estimated to be 20,000. If we lose our badgers, the British countryside will be forever adversely affected, and the stain on this government will be a long-lasting legacy.
Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/opinion/badger-cull-senseless-expensive-violence-stain-theresa-mays-government/
So badger culling is NOT working?
The number of TB-infected cattle slaughtered in Britain last year breached the 40,000 barrier, according to new statistics from Defra.
The figures, released on Wednesday (14 February), recorded 43,590 animals were killed in England, Wales and Scotland between November 2016 and 2017, up nearly 10% from the previous year.
New herd incidents increased to 3,878 in England, 3,326 of which were in the high risk area. Incidents went up by 7% in the edge area to 421.
Wales saw the biggest change for new herd incidents with a year-on-year increase of 16%.
The next monthly notice will be published on Wednesday 14 April.
The next quarterly statistical notice, which includes headline measures and charts, will be published on Wednesday 14 March.
Michael Gove accused of betrayal over badger cull review
Having promised to review the government’s controversial badger cull policy on being appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment last year, the government has finally announced a review [1] of it’s TB eradication strategy that specifically excludes any examination of badger culling.
“This is political mendacity at its very worst,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin. “Not only has Michael Gove gone back on his word on badger culling but the scope of the review [2] states that it will not look at the rationale for any past interventions and will be ‘prospective’ as opposed to ‘retrospective’. It is therefore hard to see how this can even be described as a ‘review’ as that would necessarily entail an examination of past performance.”
The Badger Trust will by holding a peaceful protest outside the Headquarters of Defra at 17 Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3JR on Thursday 22nd February between 12 and 2pm.
The protest will call on the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to include the badger cull as a key part of the bovine TB policy review to be undertaken by Professor Charles Godfray and to withdraw any plans to extend the badger cull into Low Risk TB areas of England.
Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust, who will speak at the protest said:
“We believe the government and farming industry are on a mission to eradicate badgers from all areas of the country based on nothing more than anecdote and opinion, which defies all scientific and expert advice. To extend badger culling into low risk TB areas will effectively remove all protection from badgers on farmland in England. Michael Gove has proved he is prepared to betray not only his own words but also the principles of governing for the public good and that of our environment for which he has been given responsibility”
“He has already signed the death warrant of 20,000 badgers since taking office and is setting about the process of killing tens of thousand more, which could lead to local extinction of badgers from areas of the country where they have lived since the Ice Age. All at the behest of a powerful farming and landowning lobby that supports his government”.
Peter Martin, Chair of the Badger Trust, who will also speak at the protest said:
“Michael Gove is simply caving into pressure from the farming lobby who have publicly stated that any review of culling would put them in an extremely difficult position. The reason for this is that there is no conclusive evidence of how - or even if - badgers infect cattle with TB to any meaningful extent. Add to this the fact that there is no evidence that five years of culling has had any effect on levels of TB in cattle and you can see why they are scared of a review.”
“We put this to Michael Gove at a meeting in his office before Christmas when he asked why we thought that culling was taking place. We told him it was mostly because the farming lobby is using badgers to deflect attention away from their own serious shortcomings in handling TB but also because no government minister had ever had the courage to stand up to them and tell them the hard scientific facts.”
“This was a deliberate challenge to Michael Gove, we wanted to see if all his public posturing over the environment and animal welfare had any substance. Well now we know.”
Tom Langton, who has successfully taken Natural England to court over their failure to release the Ecological Impact Assessment for the badger cull, will also speak at the protest.
For details on the protest contact Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust on 07876 596233
Michael Gove accused of betrayal over badger cull review
Having promised to review the government’s controversial badger cull policy on being appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment last year, the government has finally announced a review [1] of it’s TB eradication strategy that specifically excludes any examination of badger culling.
“This is political mendacity at its very worst,” says Badger Trust Chairman, Peter Martin. “Not only has Michael Gove gone back on his word on badger culling but the scope of the review [2] states that it will not look at the rationale for any past interventions and will be ‘prospective’ as opposed to ‘retrospective’. It is therefore hard to see how this can even be described as a ‘review’ as that would necessarily entail an examination of past performance.”
“Michael Gove has simply given in to pressure from the farming lobby who have stated publicly that a review of culling would put them in an extremely difficult position [3],” continues Peter Martin. “The reason for this is that there is no conclusive evidence of how - or even if - badgers infect cattle with TB to any meaningful extent. Add to this the fact that there is no evidence that five years of culling has had any effect on levels of TB in cattle and you can see why they are scared of a review.”
“We put this to Michael Gove at a meeting in his office before Christmas when he asked why we thought that culling was taking place,” continues Peter Martin. “We told him it was mostly because the farming lobby is using badgers to deflect attention away from their own serious shortcomings in handling TB but also because no government minister had ever had the courage to stand up to them and tell them the hard scientific facts.”
“This was a deliberate challenge to Michael Gove,” says Peter Martin, “we wanted to see if all his public posturing over the environment and animal welfare had any substance. Well now we know.”
“The situation is even worse” says Dominic Dyer, CEO of the Badger Trust. “At the same time as announcing this ‘non-review’ Defra have started consulting on extending the badger culls to the areas of the country which have little or no bovine TB [4]. There can be no rational explanation for this in terms of controlling the disease. Recently revealed data on levels of TB in badgers from the existing cull zones [5] shows that even in the high risk HRA only around 3% of badgers are infected enough to present a risk even to themselves let alone cattle. Badger infection rates will be much lower in the low risk LRA areas of the country.”
“It simply doesn’t make sense,” continues Dominic Dyer, “especially as the government has also just announced a significant expansion and investment in the badger vaccination scheme for the TB Edge Areas and Low Risk areas. They cannot credibly do both. Equally, vaccination has reduced TB levels in badgers to around 1% in the Welsh IAA TB hotspot, which shows how well it works for badgers although there has been no decrease in cattle infections. Overall cattle TB incidents have halved in Wales over five years without any culling of badgers to date. Culling badgers doesn’t work.”
“We can only conclude that the government and farming industry are on a mission to eradicate badgers from all areas of the country based on nothing more than anecdote and opinion, which defies all scientific and expert advice,” continues Dominic Dyer. “This latest series of announcements has effectively removed all protection from badgers on farmland in England. Michael Gove has proved he is prepared to betray not only his own words but also the principles of governing for the public good and that of our environment for which he has been given responsibility. He has already signed the death warrant of 20,000 badgers since taking office and is setting about the process of killing tens of thousand more at the behest of a powerful minority lobby that supports his government. We urge everyone who opposes this to email Michael Gove directly at michael.gove.mp@parliament.uk. ”
[2]Section 3: Scope - The review will not re-visit the rationale for current interventions in the Strategy. It will take a prospective and not a retrospective view. It is not a review of badger culling.
[3]https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/nfu-leadership-hopefuls-question-goves-commitment-to-badger-cull--51421 Quote - Current livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who is standing for both vice and deputy president, said: “We have got to work our backsides off to make sure Gove does not change his position, because at the minute he is on the edge.
“We do not want any reviews, because if we get to that stage, we will struggle.”
Presidential hopeful Minette Batters shared Mr Sercombe’s concerns.
“Michael Gove is going to call a review of all TB policy, so the culling is in a very difficult place”, she said.
See also: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/681386/tb-surveillance-wildlife-england-2017.pdf

Are badgers in danger of being wiped out in the UK? Those of us who care thought the appointment of Michael Gove as Environment Minister may stop the futile culling of badgers but it would seem we were misled. The latest announcement says the government will not be reviewing the badger cull but they are to 'consult' on rolling it out to the low risk areas. Most of us know that 'consulting' usually means they just carry on how they want regardless of the comments received from consultation.
Dear Michael,
I write for the second time to express my disgust at the expansion of the appalling
bloodbath that is the badger cull, the destruction of an important part of our British heritage. Your education obviously didn't include any explanation of the interdependency of both plants and animals, the big picture, the detrimental effects of species removal.
Not only have the culls of the last 5 years yielded no positive results for the reduction of tb in cattle, they have caused distress to public and industry alike. Introducing culling into Low Risk Areas would be unthinkable to any normal well informed member of society, particularly as it is a precautionary measure to prevent ingress of disease.
This could be likened to killing all carnivorous mammals carrying rabies as a precautionary measure, but wait, don't we vaccinate and in so doing have eradicated this fatal disease.
I am amazed that someone with political will,who listens, questions, researches and has the wisdom, or maybe not, of political experience can condone such a policy. Your green credentials have faded into insignificance together with a total loss of credibility.
The blinkered obsession with killing badgers has been designed with one objective only, that of destroying the Badger Protection Act. Badger persecution has escalated during the last 5 years with very few if prosecutions. The supplementary licences of Somerset and Gloucestershire have enabled industry and others to kill protected wildlife under the radar, without scrutiny, until infinity. Again the introduction of culling into LRA's is a policy without substance, it's an embarrassment to yourself and your department and can only serve as encouragement for further criminal activity.
Who are the beneficiaries of badger culling, certainly not farming businesses ?
Large landowners, shooting estates, developers, Conservative supporters and donors.
Badgers are a distraction and hindrance to their activities, remove the protection act and make life easier, wildlife taking the hit for their greed.
Conservative legacies are now firmly established-
1. Brexit
2. Badger cull
both of which have destroyed the Best of British, and both attributed to yourself.
For 8 years Defra have hidden behind a smokescreen of lies and deceit, but not for much longer Brand Badger is already geared up to welcome the comprehensive animal welfare plans of the incoming Government. Your days of aspirations for Downing Street are numbered.
One very angry, frustrated, heartbroken individual.

The government’s new ‘Green’ offensive aimed at young voters has today faltered as one of Michael Gove’s DEFRA Agencies has lost an appeal against a Freedom of Information ruling in a decision by the Greater Regulatory Council on 24th January 2018; EA/2017/0160.
• Natural England are now directed to release details on environmental decisions and safeguards from the Government’s badger killing policy roll-out in 2016. Release of such information may inform the recent Judicial Review Applications concerning badger cull licences that wildlife campaigners have objected to for four years.
• Concerns have been raised by campaigners that NE had repeatedly failed in their duty to demonstrate safeguards from a widespread natural ecological process known as carnivore release effect. This is the change in number and behaviour of wild animals that occur when for example badgers are culled in large numbers in an attempt to influence bovine TB rates in beef and dairy herds – the government policy that has been failing to stop the spread of the disease in England since 2011.
• Such ‘ecosystem disruption’ can have significant impacts both on and off nature reserves. By law such disruption must be assessed in detail and where possible avoided. Otherwise, specialist and expensive monitoring and mitigation measures must be undertaken. Natural England had however withheld the locations and species that they assessed. Natural England routinely requires such measures of developers e.g. home and road builders before projects and plans are approved.
• Badger culling has taken place in and around some of the most strictly protected beauty spots and nature areas in western England, guarded for their internationally acclaimed rare wildlife interest. Natural England are responsible for properly assessing all potentially damaging activities before licences are issued. Failure to do this assessment correctly might make the issue of badger culling licences unlawful.
• Barrister Tim Nesbitt QC representing Tom Langton pointed out that behind release of the information were details of how well Natural England had assessed ecological impacts of badger culling and ‘the evils’ of environmental damage that may have gone unscrutinised.
Judgement Conclusions:
• The Information Commissioners original judgement in July 2017 had been that it was “not satisfied that release of the withheld information would cause direct or actual harm to public safety or increase the risk of harm to a degree which could be said adversely to affect public safety.” They concluded that the exception (12) (5) (a) relied upon was not engaged, so did not need to consider the balance of public interest. “evidence of damage to badger traps was not what Parliament intended to be covered by public safety because such activity, whilst unlawful, had “no impact on the wider community”.
• The ICO legal representative pointed out that the NE witness “had repeatedly referred in her statement to whether disclosure “would be likely to…”, rather than the test in the EIRs of whether it “would” have the required adverse effect. Furthermore, she had relied on examples of harassment which pre-dated the disclosures directed by the Tribunal in Dale without pointing to any later adverse consequences of that disclosure. Finally, her evidence as to more recent events was unsatisfactory in failing to link the isolated incidents she described to organised protest, and she had not provided equivalent data about the number of arrests which had been presented to the Tribunal in Dale.”
• In conclusion, the Tribunal were not persuaded by Natural England’s approach. “We note that she [NE staff witness] relied on incidences of lawful protest as supporting Natural England’s case, some of which was at some distance in time from the date of the information request and Natural England’s reply, and we regret that her evidence to the Tribunal failed to distinguish in a number of important respects between instances of lawful protest and criminal activity. On balance, we preferred Mr Puttock’s evidence (for Mr Langton) on contention that “Stop the Cull” is a minority group and not representative of the anti-cull movement and that the local groups which comprise the movement have their own boundary maps and are not reliant on “Stop the Cull” for information.” For these reasons, the Tribunal was not satisfied that Natural England proved its case on contention or persuaded on the evidence that the disclosure of the withheld information would have any more than a minor impact of the refinement of cull zone boundaries.
• Natural England’s evidence about the scale and impact of badger cull protestor behaviour “was confused and largely related to the wrong period. We received no witness evidence from the owner of a damaged trap, no evidence from the police about patterns of such behaviour, and found it difficult to rely on witness A’s confused and confusing data.
• The Tribunal found “Natural England offered us no evidential connection between witness C and D’s experiences and the behaviour of the wider anti-cull movement which would suggest that such behaviour would be repeated, let alone increased, for any reason. On the contrary, we accept Mr Puttock’s evidence that the number of protestors has decreased, the number of cull areas has increased and that in consequence the behaviour of the grass roots movement has changed, to focus on the protection by local groups of viable badger clans. This evidence was, in our view, consistent with his uncontradicted evidence about the scaling down of the police operation, witness A’s own evidence of an almost complete absence of criminal charges and convictions of protestors in recent years, and the reported decision of NFU not to apply for a new injunction.
• In reaching their conclusions the Tribunal took “into account our finding above that the evidence indicates a low-level risk to public safety from disclosure, consisting of a low risk of incidences of harassment and the higher risk of damage to badger traps, the consequences of which are unclear. Weighed against that risk is the importance of public access to environmental information, and the public interest in holding an informed debate about a matter of considerable public interest and national environmental significance. We reach no conclusions about the theories advanced by Mr Langton and Mr Woodfield, but we do find that there is a public interest in them being published and debated by the scientific community, and considered by the wider public, with the benefit of the information contained in the withheld material. For all these reasons, Natural England’s appeal is dismissed. The Decision Notice is upheld and Natural England is directed to disclose the withheld information.”
Tom Langton who brought the FOI request and opposed Natural England’s appeal at the Tribunal welcomed the decision;
“After five years this is a huge victory for the environment against successive governments that appear not to want to listen or share in aspects of protection of our countryside. The information released is vital to help check the level of potential impacts on declining habitats and species following badger culling.
We can confirm that High Court Judicial Review Applications have been lodged to challenge licences issued on the back of recently released information on the 2017 Habitat Regulation Assessments. These show exactly how our request for these details in 2016 was a vital part of access to information that is made possible by the Aarhus Convention. Access was unfairly denied.
The ‘badger crowd’ cannot be thanked enough for support, funding and advice needed to help bring about this breakthrough. Badger Groups from across the U.K. including the Badger Trust charities and hundreds of individuals have joined together to help bring justice for badgers and other wildlife just a little bit closer.
There are surely no prospects of further appeal to this crushing judgement via a Second Tier Appeal. We need to understand the potential unmitigated damage done to wildlife in 2016 and back as far as 2013 let alone that under scrutiny now for the 2017 badger cull licences. It is surely time to review the important legal and technical matters that have been overlooked for so long.
We thank Tim Nesbitt QC of Outer Temple Chambers, Expert witnesses Dominic Woodfield (Bioscan UK Ltd.) and Ray Puttock (Gloucestershire) for their dedicated efforts. Anna Dale and John Leston provided valuable advice and support.”
Natural England (The Appellant) have lost their Appeal against the Information Commissioners ruling on 4th July 2017. They were instructed to release unredacted information to Tom Langton on seven 2016 Habit Regulations Assessments relating to the impact of badger culling on wider wildlife interests in English badger culling areas.
The case was heard in the first tier tribunal General Regulatory Chamber (information Rights) on 12-13 December 2017,Field House, Bream’s Buildings, London.
Respondents were The Information Commissioner and Tom Langton.
The case was brought by Tom Langton a consultant conservation biologist who had requested copies of environmental impact assessments (known as “Habitats Regulations Assessments” HRA’s) in relation to the areas of the badger cull that include or are near to designated areas such as Special Areas of Conservation (“SAC’s”), Special Protection Areas (“SPA’s) and ‘RAMSAR” sites of designated international wetland importance. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsar_Convention
In responding to the request Natural England had released extensively redacted copies of the assessments, on the purported basis that the information engages the “public safety” exception in the Environmental Information Regulations (“EIR”). EIR exception12(5)(a), which states that information may be withheld if: ‘… disclosure would adversely affect international relations, defence, national security or public safety; or the protection of the environment to which the information relates.’
This issue had been subject to detailed consideration by another Tribunal in late 2015 in the case of Natural England v Information Commissioner & Dale (EA/2014/0094) when the Tribunal rejected the contentions advanced by Natural England. The Information Commissioners Office had in our case similarly rejected the Natural England claim that the exception is engaged (i.e. following the approach in Dale.)
The case focussed upon the exemptions to the Environmental Information Regulations regarding public safety versus public interest in release of environmental information.
Would release of the information lead to an increased threat of intimidation, harassment and criminal activity to landowners and farmers involved in badger culling such that it outweighed the public interest value in making such information available for independent scrutiny
Release of the HRAs will allow independent experts to assess their adequacy and if found wanting could lead to further legal action to challenge the legality of the 2016 badger cull licences. Many 2017 licences are already under challenge as are badger culling methods approved in 2017.
Further Links and Sources
Link to preliminary Judgement.
Link to Dale Judgement http://informationrights.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk/DBFiles/Decision/i2034/Natural%20England,%20EA-2014-0094,%200160,%200234,0311.pdf
Natural England Standard Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) Standard
Legal Team
Barrister Tim Nesbitt: Outer Temple Chambers
Dominic Woodfield
Links to fundraising appeals:
Natural England has lost its appeal against handing over badger cull information. They have been directed by the ICO to disclose the withheld information.
The two outstanding Judicial Review Applications are to be joined together.
What if we were targeting the wrong species to control Bovine TB?
"Animals—and thus both cattle and badgers—are made susceptible to TB if they carry a parasite burden. Examination of TB-infected and uninfected badgers showed that only those harbouring parasites were TB-infected."
We know that liver fluke affects over 70% of UK dairy farms (McCann et al, 2010). And we know that infection with liver fluke can reduce SICCT test sensitivity (Donnelly et al, 2013).
If badger immunity is similarly compromised by concurrent infection with parasites, perhaps we need to look into ways to reduce that burden?
House of Commons - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Written Evidence
10 Lagrange P H and Hurtrel B in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Eds. M Bendinelli and H Friedman. Plenum Press 1998 pp 171-193. Back

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