.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Killing badgers

By way of endorsement I have set out a press release from the Badger Trust in full below:

The Prime Minister and his friends in the cattle industry are busy trying to brainwash the public about killing badgers. ‘Pilot’ culls are due to begin before the end of the year and there is an increasing barrage of propaganda to soften up public opinion with outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about bovine tuberculosis (bTB) and its impact.

David Williams, Chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “Mr Cameron told BBC’s Radio 4 that there could be '...appalling consequences for badgers' if the culls did not go ahead. The Trust says it beggars belief that he is forgetting the horrific reality of the slaughter he is backing. More than 100,000 badgers, the vast majority disease free, will be slaughtered or maimed. Nothing could be more appalling than that”.

The PM also said the Government could spend "another billion pounds" dealing with the consequences of bovine TB if culls were not carried out, but killing the animals would have only a marginal effect in the long run. But with an eventual benefit of only 12-16 per cent at best the compensation bill will be barely affected. New restrictions introduced this year at the insistence of the European Commission are likely to have a real and lasting effect. They are similar to the successful Area Eradication Scheme of the immediate post war years which did not include any assaults on wildlife.

Mr Williams added: “Mr Cameron boasts that the Coalition had the political courage to help the countryside, whereas culling will help no one other than those who wish to kill any wildlife at will anywhere.

“Successive governments should have called the cattle industry to heel 20 years ago when it was resisting pre-movement restrictions, cattle movement monitoring and more frequent testing. In the meantime the number of cattle slaughtered was rising from about 1,000 a year on average to almost 38,000 last year. This tragic outcome followed 20 years of stability with various local badger culling schemes making no difference, and even now the new but long overdue cattle-based policies are not being given time to have an impact before the killing".

The pre-cull smokescreen has recently included, in the Daily Telegraph:

• June 2: a farmer in Gloucestershire tearful about losing cattle for which he is compensated, a member of the industry that kills prematurely ten times as many cattle for diseases other than bTB;

• June 2: the British Veterinary Association saying the only weapon Britain has against bTB is killing badgers, repeating the myth that no other country has controlled the disease without killing wildlife – forgetting the UK itself which did just that from 1950 to 1990;

• July 28: overblown tales of terror (one farmer) in Derbyshire, where the county council has decided not to allow culling on its land;

Those who see badger killing as a cheap shortcut or even as a salve to their discomfiture at being rebuffed in the past are, like the lady in Hamlet’s play, protesting too much.

This cull is getting out of hand and it is time somebody stepped in to restrain the Prime Minister and others who are gung ho for it.
Memo for DEFRA and the NFU:-

Precisely HOW are badgers supposed to spread bTB to cattle?

DIRECT CONTACT? Research shows cattle and badgers almost NEVER come within sniffing distance of each other. Cattle bTB is a respiratory disease, passed on in coughs and sneezes.

THROUGH BADGER DUNG OR URINE IN PASTURES GRAZED BY CATTLE? There's absolutely no research to show that's possible (and many researchers have tried to find some).

There's a lot of evidence indicating bTB transmission CAN'T happen this way.

Around 80% badgers don't have TB; of those that do, post-mortems show only a tiny percentage excrete TB infected dung or urine -there won't be enough TB bacilli shed to infect cattle.

Cattle won't graze close to ANY dung or urine unless they're forced to by extreme hunger (stock-owners couldn't afford to let cattle get that hungry, they wouldn't be productive).

Cattle anatomy means cattle would need to ingest large amounts of the dung and urine they're known to avoid to be at risk of catching the disease.

So if badgers don't pass on bTB through direct contact or through dung and urine, how ARE they supposed to spread the disease?
Thanks Peter for bringing to the attention of your Blog readers the latest press release from The Badger Trust. I circulated it last night via the Cardiff Animal Network CAN that reaches the whole of the UK. Vets have recently announced that 1% of cats have bTB and they catch it from rats. So targeting the badger is a nonsense anyway and the answer lies in better biosecurity, restricted movement of cattle, better animal husbandry , and better testing.

Again no mention of the cattle that the farmers slaughter every year through disease largely preventable – mastitis, lame foot etc. More than 10 times cattle are slaughtered for these diseases than for bTB.
@ Nigel George

Re: "Vets have recently announced that 1% of cats have bTB and they catch it from rats."

The www.badgersandtb.com site also points to rats as a source of bTB. Rats love cattle feed and they (apparently) could excrete bTB.

If we are to have a sensible debate about the merits of badger culling or vaccination it's important to dispose of the myths on both sides of the debate and it's for this reason the nonsense spouted by the previous comment is dealt with. Transmission between cattle and badgers is proven. It is not by direct contact but by pasture and cow pats. Essentially, badgers rummage into the pasture particularly that well fertilised by manure, for insects and worms, the main diet of the badger. This is the point of transmission. It is not 'direct' contact.There is ample research on this, and one of the most basic realities is that bTB causes lesions in both and finds both species a suitable host. The point about cats and rats is often miss-quoted. This is where the bTB bacteria is present on the moist surfaces of fleas and small insects. These species is not an infection vector as these species do not fall ill though ingestion, their own immure system fights off bTB. The scientific research on other species relate to the physical spreading of bacteria carried externally on fleas, not as an infected host. Badgers and cattle, and some other ruminant species do become infected and act as a host species. It's the reason why vaccination by a less virulent form of TB is being trailed in Wales and badger culling being conducted in Ireland and now in England. The debate is not about whether the transmission vector in these host species exists. That is a fact. The debate is how to reduce the propensity of infection though these host species, either by reducing the population density of badgers (culling) or by making badgers less of a host reservoir by artificial stimulation of a badgers immune system prior to infection (vaccination). The rate of infection in badgers ranges from 30% to 0% and is geographically distributed. High cross-infection rates occur in areas of free range organic cattle production with high badger population density (hotspots). Low cross infection rates occur in areas of factory farmed cattle or areas of low badger density (not-spots). Perhaps the Cardiff Animal Network should consider that a herd of pedigree cattle do not roam the fertile pastures of Roath park and the biggest culling exercise in Wales is actually against rats and is conducted by the environmental health department of Cardiff City Council.

The real myth of course is that killing badgers is going to have any significant effect on the level of bTB let alone permanently permanently eradicate bTB.’
A real fact is that modern farming methods have done most probably irreparable harm to many species of wild life already. Enough is enough. Focus on farming methods and improve them rather than kill a species most free from bTB anyway.

More and more people are also appreciating as a fact that it is easy to lead a healthy life without recourse to eating animals or dairy products. For proof just look at the many alternatives on sale – the list grows daily. The Coalition Government and many (NOT all) farmers are engaged on a disastrous PR exercise.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?