Wildlife Reservoirs, is the badger a costly distraction, a scapegoat ...?
22 Jul 2010, 6:43 PM
Prof John Bourne, who conducted the infamous ten year, government-funded study which showed that badger killing is a waste of time and money, recalled what he was told by a senior politician:
"Fine, John, we accept your science, but we have to offer farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers."
This strand on the forum deals mainly with the wildlife reservoirs involved in the bovine TB saga. In the UK this is, as we are probably all aware by now, believed to be mainly the badger. No other mammal has been studied in the UK as intensely as the badger so actually we don't really know just how other animals are implicated. In other countries different species are implicated. There are some anomalies too, including the example below.
Has anyone an explanation for the following!
According to last issue of Gwlad, Australia is now bTB free after 27 years of trying. We are told it has no wildlife reservoir. New Zealand is still aiming for eradication. It has a wildlife reservoir - possums - which are considered a pest species as not indigenous so are being culled - and vaccinated!
HOWEVER - possums ARE native to Australia and bTB was rife in country for years so - why are the Australian possums not a reservoir?
4 Nov 2014, 11:15 AM
Apparently the 'badger found dead survey' for the whole of Wales commenced 3 November 2014 and will run throughout 2015. This will test badgers that have been fond dead on roads.
4 Nov 2014, 11:13 AM
Westminster Hall Debate: Assessment of the second year of the badger culls
Tuesday 4 November 2014
From the Office of Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
Labour says •It is appalling that David Cameron has allowed thesebadger culls to go ahead when they have already been described as an ‘epic failure’ by the Chief Scientific Advisor to Natural England.
•The Government must commit today to abandoning any attempt to seek an extension for these badger culls andwork with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.
•Bovine TB is a serious problem that needs addressing but these badger culls have been shown to be ineffective, inhumane and they may have made the problem worse.
•Earlier this year the Independent Expert Panel reported that the badger culls were ineffective and inhumane. In response the Government has decided not to continue with any independent scientific monitoring for the second year of the badger cull.
•The Government is wilfully ignoring scientific evidence in order to cull badgers- the Government has changed the methodology of the second year of the badger culls. This means that the results in year one will not be comparable with year two of the badger culls. •Liz Truss missed a clear opportunity when she became Secretary of State to leave prejudice-based policy in the past and place science firmly at the centre of herdepartment’s policy.
•Labour has consistently said that to get Bovine TB under control we need to bring in stricter cattle measures and prioritise badger and cattle vaccinations, but these culls are not the answer.
•The previous Labour Government conducted a ten year experiment and spent £50 million to develop a credible plan to tackle the issue of bovine TB- this was called the Randomised Badger Cull Trial. The conclusion was not only that it made no meaningful contribution to eradicating bovine TB, but that small- scale localised culling actually worsened the problem.
•In 2011 the Coalition Government proposed two, four year pilot badger culls to be carried out over a period of six weeks to monitor: safety, effectiveness and humanness.
•An Independent Panel of Experts was asked to oversee and evaluate the pilots and report to Ministers, before a decision is made on whether to roll out the policy more widely.
•In Defra’s own guidance to Natural England (who license the culls) at least 70% of the total badger population was to be removed over a period of six weeks.
•The IEP devised a robust methodology to assess efficacy and humaneness- it was based on estimates of badger population size derived from capture-mark-recapture using genetic signatures from badger hair.
•In April 2014 the Independent Expert Panel found that the two pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire failed on both the effectiveness, humaneness tests.
•Humaneness- “It is extremely likely that between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers that were shot at were still alive after 5 min, and therefore at risk of experiencing marked pain. We are concerned at the potential for suffering that these figures imply.”
•Effectiveness- “Controlled shooting in conjunction with cage trapping, over the 6-week period of the pilot culls, failed to remove at least 70% of the pre-cull badger population from either pilot area. It is extremely likely that combined shooting and cage trapping removed less than 48.1% of the badgers in Somerset and less than 39.1% of the badgers in Gloucestershire.” [Even after the two extensions]
•Tim Coulson, one the members of the Independent Expert Panel said that he and his colleagues did not have access to the Secretary of State to present their findings and discuss them directly with him.
•The existing evidence from the first year of the badger culls strongly suggest that culling is not the solution in England.
•After the IEP branded the badger culls ‘ineffective’ and ‘inhumane’ the Government decided not to allow any further independent monitoring of the badger culls.
•The Government has changed the methods that allow the effectiveness of the continuing pilots to be assessed in year two in the same way they were assessed in year one- therefore the results are incomparable.
•The second year of the badger culls departed from the IEP method to assess efficacy and humaneness- based on estimates of badger population size derived from capture-mark-recapture using genetic signatures from badger hair.
• The second year also used two different methods to set cull targets for Somerset and Gloucestershire.
* Gloucestershire- Used last year’s estimate minus thenumber culled, plus variables of ‘breeding’, etc.
* Somerset- Used figures based on the number of ‘active badger setts’- but such a concept has been branded meaningless by leading scientists as most badgers use more than one sett.
29 Oct 2014, 6:36 PM
The Court of Appeal today handed down its judgment in Badger Trust’s appeal concerning the refusal of the Secretary of State to maintain an Independent Expert Panel (IEP) to oversee the monitoring and analysis of the results from the second year of the pilot culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. The Trust had understood that the Secretary of State had promised that an IEP would oversee the monitoring and analysis of the results of the culls while she was still considering a wider roll out. However, although the IEP had concluded that the first year of the pilot culls had been an abject failure and therefore the Secretary of State rightly decided not to roll out culling more widely, she abandoned the use of an IEP for the second year of the pilot. The Trust challenged this decision on the basis that the Secretary of State’s promise amounted to an enforceable legitimate expectation and accordingly any decision to roll out more widely after the second year of the pilots would be unlawful. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument, noting that the Government’s policy could be “said to be characterised by a tone of optimism as to the likely success of the pilot scheme in the first year.” This optimism proved to be totally unfounded given the failure of the first year of the culls to achieve sufficient standards of effectiveness, humaneness and safety, despite the then Secretary of State’s premature announcement to the contrary. While the Trust respects the decision of the Court of Appeal as a matter of law, as a matter of policy, it calls upon the Secretary of State to confirm she will not roll out culls more widely given the failure of the pilot culls. Jeff Hayden, Financial Director and the Trust’s lead on the Judicial Review challenge said: “The current Secretary of State rightly has not jumped, as her predecessor did, to a premature conclusion regarding the result of the second year of the culls. However, if the leaked figures regarding effectiveness are correct, then contrary to the suggestions of the National Farmers’ Union, she cannot yet again move the goalposts, particularly when she has refused to have an independent referee. “If the second year of the pilots has not met the standards determined by the Secretary of State, she must acknowledge that the pilots are a failure and culling cannot be rolled out more widely. Instead, DEFRA should commit to rigorous cattle control measures as employed in Wales where a reduction of 48% in bovine TB (bTB) has been achieved during the last five years. The small threat from badgers should be dealt with by vaccination rather than inhumane and ineffective slaughter.”
20 Oct 2014, 7:21 PM
Culling fails again. We have heard that the cull (now ended for this year) in Gloucester failed again - 253 badgers killed - target was 615. Provisional cull results indicate that Gloucester achieved 41% of its minimum target & 23% of maximum. Somerset met its minimum target and were 40% of max target Second yearr of failure?
20 Oct 2014, 7:15 PM
New Badger Cull Poll: Nine Out of Ten Say ‘Stop Culling and Do it the Welsh Way’
Results from a new poll on the controversial badger cull show that nine out of ten people who express an opinion (89%) want the UK government to stop culling badgers and follow the Welsh by combatting bovine TB (bTB) through cattle measures alone.
The poll, commissioned by Care for the Wild and the Badger Trust and carried out by ComRes, highlights that three out of four (74%) British adults overall say they are aware of the cull. The poll offers a fascinating insight into opinions on one of the government’s most controversial policies.
On being given information about the Welsh government’s success in cutting bTB by almost a half in four years through cattle measures alone, nine out of ten (89%) people said the UK government should follow their lead.
In addition, of those that expressed an opinion:
• Eight out of ten (78%) believe culling is a cruel way to reduce bTB • More than eight out of ten (84%) believe there are better ways to reduce bTB • Seven out of ten (70%) believe the cull should be stopped immediately • Less than two in five (37%) agree that badgers must be culled if we are to reduce bTB among cattle.
Dominic Dyer, of the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild, said: “I think there’s no doubt that the British people want to see the back of this cull. Nine out of ten is a stunning endorsement of the Welsh government’s no-cull policy, and a strong rebuke to the British government.
“There is a clear majority against the cull, and there is a clear mandate for the path the government should take. We know that the bTB test misses one in five infected cows, meaning there are potentially thousands hidden in herds passing on the disease. We know that one in every four new cases of bTB is only found when the cow is slaughtered. And all this is backed up by the situation in Wales, where they are beating the disease by focussing on the cattle.
“The message from the public to the government is clear – stop the killing, and focus on something that actually has a chance of beating this disease.”
ComRes interviewed 2,048 British adults online between the 19th and 21st September 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member o f the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables available at www.ComRes.co.uk
 Please note that base sizes for those who express an opinion range from 1,140 – 1,804.
17 Oct 2014, 8:26 PM
Bovine TB: Cattle, Badgers and Politicians – a profoundly revealing story.
www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2590057/unlawful_ineffective_toxic_the_badger_cull_must_end_ vaccination_is_the_answer. html
6 Oct 2014, 10:03 AM
Badger Trust legal challenge over monitoring of badger cull to be heard by Court of Appeal - following is from Badger Trust press release.
The Badger Trust will take its legal challenge over the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to the Court of Appeal on Thursday 9 October
This follows a hearing on 11 September where the Vice President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal agreed that the Badger Trust had a real prospect of success in its appeal.
The Court of Appeal will be asked by the Badger Trust to find that the Secretary of State for the Environment, Elizabeth Truss, has unlawfully failed to put in place an Independent Expert Panel to monitor and analyse the results of the continued culling of badgers in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2014. The Trust contends that the use of such a Panel to oversee the design of data collection, its analysis and interpretation was promised by the Secretary of State while she is still considering whether to roll-out culls to other areas, and there is no lawful reason for the Secretary of State to resile from that promise. Without such a Panel, there can be no proper independent assessment of the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of the culling operation, something that would be needed before any lawful decision could be taken to continue with further culls around the country.
Professor Tim Coulson (member of the 2013 Independent Expert Panel) who spoke out against the lack of independent monitoring of the badger culls at a debate hosted by the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild at the Labour Party Conference, welcomed the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
"The Independent Expert Panel's report states clearly the rationale for ensuring that independent monitoring and the use of the statistically robust sample sizes and analytical methods, as used in the 2013 culls, are followed in further culling exercises. If this scientific advice is ignored then the data collected during the 2014 culls will be insufficiently reliable for assessment of humaneness and effectiveness. This means that farmers, veterinarians and scientists intimately involved in controlling bovine TB will be denied the information necessary to allow them to assess whether the IEP's recommended changes to the culling process have corrected the failings identified by the pilot culls."
Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild commented on the Court of Appeal hearing saying:
"The refusal of DEFRA Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss to put in place any independent monitoring of the badger culls currently being undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire is a national disgrace.
“The Government assured us that the badger cull would be carried out more humanely this year, but within a week of it starting, Secret World Wildlife Rescue reported receiving a dead badger from the Somerset cull zone which had been shot in the abdomen. In the opinion of their consultant veterinary surgeon, Dr. Elizabeth Mullineaux MRCVS, the shot had clearly not been on target and have been unlikely to result in the badger’s immediate death. We can be certain that this is not an isolated case and many other badgers are being killed by incompetent marksmen in similar ways, which is cruel and unacceptable.
“The caring compassionate British public will not remain silent whilst NFU contract gunmen move though our countryside at night attempting to kill badgers despite serious concerns regarding the level of training, monitoring and scrutiny. It is the view of the Badger Trust that Elizabeth Truss is acting unlawfully by stating at the Tory Party Conference that she will make a decision on the national roll out of the badger cull prior to the General Election, without any independent monitoring of the 2014 culling operation.
“I look forward to the Badger Trust putting this legal challenge before the Court of Appeal on 9 October 2014".
This is DARD’s very objective statement on badgers:
“TB has been found to be present in the badger population throughout the UK and Ireland. A road traffic accident (RTA) survey conducted 1999-2010 in Northern Ireland suggested a badger TB prevalence of 20%. Science has established a link between TB in badgers and TB in cattle. The exact means of spread between the species and the relative importance of potential routes of infection have not been established. The proportion of the disease in cattle can be directly attributed to badgers has not been quantified.” (http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-diseases/bovine-tuberculosis/tb-and-wildlife.htm)
Cattle slurry/manure as a source of M. bovis infection
Risks associated with spreading cattle manure and slurry
• Improperly managed manures could constitute a potential infection risk for livestock particularly if pathogenic organisms, such as Salmonella, Clostridia, E. coli, and Mycobacteria, are present in animal excretions. • Solid manure is not considered to present a risk in terms of infection if it has been well composted, especially since it is less likely to generate aerosols during application to land. • Slurry does not undergo composting during storage. As a result, slurry is extremely unlikely to reach high temperatures during storage and consequently pathogenic bacteria are more likely to survive for longer periods in stored slurry.
• The risk of infection associated with spreading of cattle slurry is likely to be much greater than spreading manure. • Slurry containing viable M. bovis may theoretically contaminate pasture, soil and silage and result in respiratory/oral transmission and infection of grazing cattle (and local wildlife) for a considerable length of time after the application of slurry depending on the conditions. • Spreading slurry can generate aerosols that potentially carry bacteria for considerable distances. Respiratory transmission to neighbouring farms via slurry aerosols, whilst probably unlikely, cannot currently be excluded. • Studies indicate that inadequate storage of slurry is associated with an increased risk of TB transmission.
Factors influencing M. bovis exposure and infection via contaminated slurry/manure
• The number of organisms excreted by cattle into the environment will play a significant role in determining whether other animals become exposed and infected. The levels of M. bovis released will depend on the prevalence and severity of infection in the herd as well as lesion distribution in infected animals. • The duration and conditions of slurry and manure storage prior to land spreading will have an effect on viability of the organism and therefore the risk of exposure and infection. • The manner in which slurry and manure are applied on farmland may also present an additional risk. For example, exposure may occur as a result of aerosol production during spreading of slurry or if land is not harrowed following deposition of cattle manure and viable bacteria within large lumps of dung are afforded protection from adverse conditions allowing extended survival. • The survival of the organism will play a significant role in determining the persistence of the organism in the farm environment and exposure of cattle and wildlife. The organism must survive any storage/treatment and the aerial or ground environment for long enough to contact a susceptible host and within the host, it must reach a suitable site of infection and survive to replicate. • Animal husbandry practices, particularly grazing management, may also be important in reducing/preventing the exposure of cattle to contaminated pasture and soil. • The risk of animals being exposed to the organism in slurry will range from high to low depending on how the variables converge on each farm. Further studies are required to determine which variables or combination of variables will result in a high risk of exposure.
Potential levels of M. bovis in cattle slurry and manure
• For cattle slurry/manure to act as a source of M. bovis, at least one animal in the herd must be infected and excreting bacteria in faeces, urine or milk that has been disposed of in the slurry lagoon. • The likelihood of excretion and the number of mycobacteria excreted by an individual animal will be dependent upon infectious dose, site and level of infection, and the amount of time the animal has been infected or severity of infection. • Current data on excretion of M. bovis in bovine faeces is very limited. Early studies, at a time when substantial numbers of the national herd were infected, indicate that the proportion of heavily infected cattle excreting M. bovis in faeces was typically 10%, but may have been as high as 80%. These early studies are not likely to be representative of the current situation in countries with established TB control programmes (including Northern Ireland). • Excretion of M. bovis in faeces from experimentally infected cattle in the absence of TB lesions in the abdomen has also been reported. It was concluded that M. bovis in the faeces arose directly from swallowing infected mucus from the respiratory tract. This is probably more likely than the release of M. bovis into the gut contents from TB granulomas in the intestinal mucosa or other parts of the digestive system. • Contamination of milk is most likely to occur when infection becomes disseminated and there is tuberculous mastitis, but the condition is now rarely observed in cows in the UK. • TB infected cattle may be capable of excreting M. bovis in urine; however, there is very little evidence to confirm that this occurs. TB lesions in the kidneys, genital organs and associated lymph nodes of tuberculin test reactor cattle are exceptionally rare in the UK nowadays. • Given the limited data available on excretion in cattle (particularly faecal excretion) it is difficult to estimate the levels of M. bovis that may be present in cattle manure and slurry. Detection of M. bovis in cattle manure/slurry is likely to be problematic due to sampling of large volumes and well-documented limitations of the methods currently available and validated for direct detection of the organism.
• Cattle manure and slurry, containing viable M. bovis organisms, spread on farm land constitutes a mechanism whereby the farm environment can become contaminated with the bacterium. The same is true for M. bovis deposited directly by infectious cattle defecating on pasture. • Indirect transmission of M. bovis to cattle and wildlife via a contaminated environment may potentially occur through inhalation/ingestion of the organisms during investigation of cattle faeces deposited in the field, inhalation of potentially infectious aerosols produced during slurry spreading or inhalation/ingestion of M. bovis from contaminated pasture, soil and silage. • For bovine TB to be transmitted via a contaminated environment, the organism must be capable of surviving in the environment and retaining infectivity for a sufficient amount of time before inhalation/ingestion by susceptible host. • Although experimental investigations have produced variable results, it appears that survival of M. bovis is enhanced in moist, cool conditions and neutral-to-acidic substrates rich in organic matter, especially when the bacilli are protected from direct sunlight.
Potential infection via faeces
• M. bovis contaminated faeces may remain infective for up to six months when deposited in winter but only one to two months in the summer, depending on the temperature and the concentration of pathogens in the faeces. • In general, cattle avoid grazing close to the faeces of other cattle, preferring to graze mature sward fertilized by the deposit, however, badgers will regularly forage cattle deposits in search of earthworms. To date, there have been no reports of M. bovis isolation from earthworms and the risk of TB transmission to badgers via consumption of M. bovis contaminated earthworms remains unknown.
Transmssion via slurry spreading
• Results from studies investigation survival of M. bovis in artificially infected (spiked) slurry indicate that the organism may survive for up to 6 months in stored slurry. Although the likelihood of infection may be reduced by the dilution effect (of air, uninfected soil and uninfected slurry/manure) there are risks of creating aerosols by mixing/pumping/spreading slurry. • Investigations into the transmission of TB via contaminated pasture have produced conflicting results. Some studies have reported infection with M. bovis after grazing pasture contaminated both naturally and artificially.
29 Sep 2014, 1:40 PM
Scapegoats: Badgers and Bovine TB - an interesting read.
The badger ‘cull’ stinks – could slurry be the real culprit for the spread of bTB?
At time of writing, parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire are once again reverberating to the sounds of gunshots and the screams of dying badgers. Despite the Government’s previous trials in 2013 being roundly condemned as pointless, bloody, inhumane and costly the guns are out again. Yet a rather pungent, potential culprit is quite literally spreading more-or-less unchecked across the countryside and nothing is being done about it.
If you’ve heard minister after minister repeat the words “Doing nothing is not an option” you’d be forgiven for thinking that everything else has been done to prevent the spread of bTB. However, you’d be wrong.
For all the talk of tightening up biosecurity – and let’s not forget that bTB is a cattle disease mostly spread within the industry itself – there is a gaping, stinking hole at the centre of this policy which may play a large part in spreading disease across the English countryside.
It is widely known that bTB can be spread to both other cattle and wildlife, such as badgers, through the urine and faeces (and other bodily excretions) of infected cows. So you would think it was a no-brainer to prevent the spreading of slurry from a farm with bTB infected cows on it, wouldn’t you? Well, incredibly, you’d be wrong.
It is not illegal to spread slurry from cows that are under movement restrictions on a farmer’s own land. In correspondence with Defra they told us: “Cattle farmers affected by bovine TB restrictions can spread the slurry from their herds on their own land.” Indeed, Defra merely tell farmers that they: “… should consider the risk of spreading the disease to other stock or wildlife”.
This despite a very real possibility that farmers are spreading infected slurry on their own land; then killing infected cattle yet reinfecting healthy cattle with dangerous slurry from those now dead cows. All the while blaming badgers when it is a cyclical disaster of their own making.
This is very plausible as bTB is tenacious. It may only be infectious on pasture for a few days (but potentially more depending on the weather) but it can remain infectious in cattle faeces for up to 2 months in the summer and 6 months in the winter. Recent research from Northern Ireland has suggested that excrement can aerosolise (i.e become dust particles) which is then breathed in by animals thus spreading infection. Slurry can run into waterways (where the bacterium can remain active for up to 58 days), which could be a vector for spreading it beyond the borders of infected farms. Hunts also regularly travel across farms under restrictions and Viva! have said previously that this too could be a vector for disease spread.
The risk associated with infected slurry is known, but is seemingly being ignored in England. One 2013 study in Northern Ireland showed that there was a higher risk of bTB associated with the use of slurry contractors: “The authors concluded, with few contractors washing and disinfecting their equipment after use, the potential of M. bovis spreading between farms and possibly even the establishment of a wildlife reservoir appears to be plausible.”
This raises an even greater concern: what of the milk containers and animal transporters that visit multiple farms on a regular basis? If slurry contractors are implicated in spreading bTB what role do they play and why has this not been looked at in detail?
In theory, slurry should be stored for at least 6 months in an effort to minimise the risk of spreading bTB. In a recent letter from Defra we were told: “Storing slurry for a minimum of 6 months is recommended, but it is not a legal requirement for all farms under TB movement restrictions.” They went onto say: “Unfortunately, AHVLA and Defra do not hold figures relating to how long farmers store slurry in practice.” Storing slurry takes space and costs money. How many farmers will abide by mere suggestions of best practice when there is no legal incentive to do so?
What other industry would be allowed free reign to spread a toxic, diseased substance across the countryside without effective regulations whilst placing the blame at the entrance to the burrows of England’s badgers?
We know from experience that many farmers and agricultural workers don’t give a flying hoof about taking personal responsibility for biosecurity. In 2011, at a Welsh livestock market, a Viva! undercover investigator observed only 3 per cent of visitors could be bothered to take the couple of seconds that were needed to disinfect footwear to prevent disease spread.
We ask again, why are badgers dying violent, needless deaths in the English countryside when farmers are still refusing to take responsibility for the literal mess of their own making?
See also a summary of the whole sorry badger saga: www.viva.org.uk/resources/campaign-materials/fact-sheets/badgers-and-bovine-tb-btb
24 Sep 2014, 6:52 PM
Labour Party Conference: "Conference, I want to make it clear today. We will put a stop to these inhumane, ineffective badger culls."
Also see: www.farmersguardian.com/home/hot-topics/bovine-tb/fractious-badger-cull-debate-yields-few-answers/67578.article
Recent claims in the farming press that purport badger culling is succeeding are misleading. For example in an article in Farmers Weekly (fwi.co.uk/articles/11/09/2014/146633/farmer-in-cull-zone-tb-free-after-agonising-struggle.htm) a farmer in the cull zone claims his herd tested TB-free for the first time in 10 years after 92 badgers were removed from his farm during last year’s trial culls. Interestingly 92 badgers represent 10% of total cull from <1% of cull area - not very likely!
... and it is far too early to claim the badger removal had anything to do with the clear test. Let's not forget either that the test is not reliable!
The farmer involved was apparently critical of the government for deciding not to test any of the badgers culled in last year’s pilots for TB.
“They should have been tested and the results should have been shown whether they were infected or not to help the public understand the situation,” he said.
20 Sep 2014, 10:12 AM
New website for those opposed to the badger cull by the popular Ethical Consumer publishers. News and boycott info.
The leader of Worcestershire County Council is writing to the Government to urge a fresh solution on tackling bovine TB - because of concerns over badger culling.
Councillor Adrian Hardman has agreed to lobby environment secretary Liz Truss over alternative tactics, acknowledging the "fierce criticism" over the controversial shooting.
During a cross-party debate at County Hall on 18th September 2014, it also emerged that the council was approached two years ago by the Government to become a badger cull pilot area, only to be refused. The pilot would have concentrated on areas in and around the Powick council ward and down towards the M50, which includes Callow End.
A motion was agreed by all parties saying shooting badgers has been criticised by "some members of the public, some eminent scientists and some animal welfare action groups". It also said the council has "already declined to participate in the current project and as such killing of the badgers in the county is illegal".
Defra …. fit for purpose following recent revised (again) bTB data?
Defra have recently released
Revisions to bovine TB statistics – September 2014
This two page document, is certainly worth scrutinising and makes quite astonishing reading with errors in Government reporting ranging from 27% to 233%. Civil servants and Ministers might be tempted to blame IT systems but surely, ultimately it is they who were responsible for ensuring that at the start of the programme everything should have been beyond question and fit for purpose to evidence, openly and transparently, demonstrate robust methodology and professional delivery through humane practice with quality assurance in terms of reporting outcomes and outputs? I suppose the words “should have” are sadly no longer applicable to Government Departments which are an inconvenience to the “higher politics” of political agendas influenced by industry advocates?
In Defence of Life - standing up against the lust for culling wildlife - a thought provoking article in The Ecologist: www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2551430/in_defence_of_life_standing_up_against_the_lust_for_culling_wildlife.html
14 Sep 2014, 6:22 PM
Brian May and Save Me journey to the Killing Fields.
Queen guitarist and animal campaigner Brian May and the Save Me Trust will be heading to the Gloucester and Somerset cull zones at the start of this coming week.
May will visit the Gloucester cull zone tomorrow, Monday, September 15, arriving in Newent mid afternoon, and then be in Somerset the following day, Tuesday September 16, to visit Camp Badger.
The visits are being made to again show May and the Save Me Trust’s support for the wounded badger patrols operating in these two areas.
A statement issued by May and the Save Me Trust ahead of their visit says:
“We rescue and rehabilitate wildlife at our head quarters in Surrey and know only too well of the pain badgers can suffer at the hand of humans.
“It is fantastic that these people are out at night to patrol and take care of any wounded badgers. Badgers are very intelligent with the same emotional level and pain capacity as our very own pet dogs. Many of the wounded will be cubs just a few months old and we wanted to say thank you to these amazing people who are protecting them.
“We spent some time down there last year to meet the night walkers who give up their sleep, work and time to care for our wildlife. Their dedication is inspiring.
“We do not support the cull and are advocating vaccination, but we aren't just talking about it we are actively doing something about it. It is a realistic approach that is both affordable and achievable. Following this policy, the cull zone cost would have been one tenth of its present level and would actually stand a chance of making the badger population TB free. However unless the farm that holds the infection and the cattle therein are tested and treated ,the whole cycle will start again. With 95% of the transmission carried between cattle to cattle, we would have to be mad to ignore it. We must not forget that during the badger cull years of 1999 - 2009, one zone in Cornwall saw bTB rise from 0.5% of the population to 10% , showing clearly that culling does not help reduce bTB in cattle and actually increases the bTB burden in badgers.
“It seems the public are with us, as this rates as the fifth most important issue on a MORI poll of MPs.
“Vaccination is used as an obvious control throughout the world and certainly among farming communities where livestock is routinely vaccinated within the first few months of its life.
“In Europe, rabies was never controlled by culling. It only halted when vaccination was used on a large scale. In the UK, the badger cull is ill-advised by all peer reviewed science. The government’s own scientific research shows that it will not help control the spread of bovine TB in cattle.
“Badgers uniquely live in small but very defined territories making them easy and obvious to vaccinate.
We are supporting the Badger and Cattle vaccination Initiative www.BACVI.co.uk as the only viable and feasible option and a viable alternative to culling and have already started vaccinating in three areas of the UK.
“The cost of cage trapping and free shooting is astronomical. It is estimated at £20 million for last year’s cull and the damning report received from the government Independent Expert Panel (IEP) has determined that the cull is unsafe, inhumane, ineffective and now financially unviable.
“We will be meeting the night walkers on Monday and Tuesday to support and thank their brave patrols.
“Brian has just come back from a hugely successful world tour as Queen and is now keen to revisit the cull zones supporting UK wildlife against this policy that defies science .”
14 Sep 2014, 10:35 AM
'Why I am sabotaging the Somerset badger cull' by activist Jay Tirernan in the Guardian: /www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/12/sabotaging-somerset-badger-cull-dairy-cows?CMP=twt_gu
13 Sep 2014, 7:15 PM
Access to Information – Request no 2224 Thank you for your request for information which we received on 19 October 2013. Your request has been considered under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
You requested the following information:
1. The following latest data for each of the Pilot Badger Cull Areas in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. Total head of cattle in each cull zone. We do not hold figures as to the cattle numbers in each zone and therefore Natural England does not hold this information and so Regulation 12(4)(a) – information not held, applies. Total number of herds in each cull zone and number of herds under TB restriction in each cull zone. At the time of the licence application assessment, of the holdings participating, there were 154 herds in West Somerset and 223 in West Gloucestershire. Based on Animal Health Veterinary and Laboratory Agency figures; at the time of assessment the 3 year TB incidence in West Somerset was 72 herds under TB restrictions giving a 16% average per year. For West Gloucestershire it was 80 herds giving a 12% average per year. 2. The following latest data for each of the 2km rings around each of the Pilot Badger Cull Areas in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire. a) The total head of cattle in 2km ring around edge each cull zone. We do not hold figures as to the cattle numbers in each zone and Therefore Natural England does not hold this information and so Regulation 12(4)(a) – information not held, applies b) Total number of herds in 2km ring around each cull zone At the time of the licence application assessment there were 90 herds in the West Somerset 2km ring and 121 in the West Gloucestershire 2km ring.
How many herds are under TB restriction in each ring around each cull zone. Based on Animal Health Veterinary and Laboratory Agency figures; at the time of assessment the 3 year TB incidence in the West Somerset 2km ring was 24 herds under TB restrictions giving a 9% average per year. For West Gloucestershire it was 4 herds giving a 12% average per year.
13 Sep 2014, 7:11 PM
Lord Justice Maurice Kay has granted the Badger Trust permission to appeal the High Court’s recent ruling against it. In April, the Secretary of State decided to continue with year two of the pilot badger culls without the oversight and evaluation of a panel of independent experts. Last month the High Court found that that decision was lawful.
However, in a hearing that lasted less than 30 minutes, the Vice-president of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal agreed with the Trust that its arguments on appeal had a real, as opposed to merely fanciful, prospect of success. The court also ordered the substantive appeal hearing to be heard as soon as practicable.
Following the good news, Jeff Hayden, Finance Director and the Trust’s lead on Judicial Challenges, who was in court, said: “Once again, our persistence has paid off. We now have a further opportunity to ensure the culls have independent scientific oversight, as the Badger Trust understood was promised by the Secretary of State. We are encouraged by the fact that the Court found that there was merit in the appeal, despite the culls having started only days ago. It is the Badger Trust’s position that any decision on further roll-out should be underscored by the appropriate involvement of an independent expert panel.”
13 Sep 2014, 6:56 PM
Labour Party Conference Debate on Badger Culling – 22nd September 2014
An important debate on the badger cull, hosted by Badger Trust and Care for the Wild will take place on Monday 22nd September as part of the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.
The debate will be held at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester from 3pm to 5pm.
Everyone is welcome to attend and the debate is free.