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Welsh Bash a Badger Season is Imminent

June 2, 2010

The BBC reports that the Pembrokeshire pilot project of badger culling is due to start.  This is an absolute disgrace approved by the Plaid/Labour coalition Welsh Assembly, in the face of a wealth of evidence that culling does not reduce TB rates in livestock.  In fact, what it does do is increase TB, as a DEFRA team found when they stopped their trial cull:

The Randomised Badger Cull Trial was carried out between 1998 and 2006 by DEFRA, under the guidance of an ‘Independant Scientific Group’ of scientists chosen from relevant fields such as animal behaviour. The work of the ISG was in turn supervised by an independent statistical auditor, Professor Denis Mollison.
The RBCT tested two culling methods:

  • Proactive culling, in which the whole of the test area was culled
  • Reactive culling, where badgers were culled in and around farms where bovine TB outbreaks occurred

Unexpectedly, reactive culling was found to increase the incidence of Tb by about 27%. This was considered so severe that this phase of the trial was halted prematurely so as to minimise the harm caused.
Proactive culling was found to reduce the incidence of BTB inside the area of the cull by 23.2%, but led to an increase in BTB of 24.5% in the areas around the edge of the cull area.
These negative effects were attributed to the so-called ‘perturbation effect’ of badgers being driven out of the cull area and carrying BTB with them, or of badgers from outside the area exploring the setts of culled badgers once they sensed the absence of badgers in that area.

Now I’m no fan of badgers, they are vicious and destructive creatures.  But we live in their world, and they live in ours.  And more to the point, the science proves that killing badgers does not rid us of TB in cattle, despite the pathetic attempts at re-writing science which are shown in the link above.  But of course, Plaid have decided to go ahead with this bloodthirsty plan despite the facts.

Good old fashioned animal husbandry and effective testing practices are the best way to control bovine TB.  The 2001 Foot & Mouth outbreak showed that it is cattle that causes TB in cattle and badgers, NOT the other way round.

In 2005, Roy Hattersley wrote a very good piece for the Times in which he discussed the science, and also the political pressures for a cull from the largest land owners in the UK.  Hattersley concludes the article with the words ‘To kill tens of thousands of badgers in vain would be an outrage.’  but obviously to those landowners who support blood sports it is a pleasure. Y’know, the sort or leeches who had tantrums over the fox-hunting ban.  And of all the things that the toffs in Government have to think about at the moment, what with the deficit and all, badger culling is of course one of them!

Farmers who know the score and know this cull is absolute rubbish are now forced to speak anonymously due to the divisions caused by Plaid and the Assembly.  It’s time the North Wales tories with their cap doffing deference to money were driven out of Plaid.  If they were told to get rid of all the animals which carry bovine TB – rats, foxes, deer, goats, sheep, cats and dogs being some of them – they would immediately implement a plan to do so.

The pressure group Pembrokeshire Against the Cull (PAC) have documented all the evidence available and now the judicial review launched by Badger Watch has failed (surprise! who woulda predicted the courts would support the state?), they are advising all landowners as to their rights and how inspectors are supposed to carry out visits.

From a PAC leaflet:

Experts acknowledge that a tighter testing regime for cattle, much better handling of bTB occurrence on farms and better bio security will lower the incidence and spread of bTB, paving the way for vaccination of both badgers and cattle in the imminent future.

Problems with the proposed badger cull.

Such a massive badger cull is hugely problematic. Many badgers will survive, but with their social groups disrupted. WAG [Welsh Assembly Government] admit that a badly delivered cull will increase bTB in the cull area, and that any cull is “highly likely” to increase bTB in the surrounding zone.

The incidence of cattle TB is already declining with existing cattle control measures alone. As cattle focused measures are to be improved and augmented (at last) further falls are likely to continue. This is predicted by the science. If a badger cull is carried out alongside the new cattle based measures, it would be impossible to evaluate its contribution, if any, in preventing cattle TB.

The Taxpayer does not want to pay over four million pounds for something that Science says is unnecessary. This money could be spent on vital services in the community.

A cull will encourage criminals who wish to harm badgers by snaring, digging and shooting. Badger-baiters could access live-trapped badgers for their evil sport.

The tourist industry in Wales could be badly affected. Holidays cancelled where the slaughter of a much-loved animal is taking place. The good image of farming in Wales will be badly tarnished.

A badger cull will affect other eco-systems, with likely, damaging effects on wildlife and farming in the future.

Many landowners will not allow a badger cull on their land. However, WAG has approved draconian powers of entry, overriding peoples’ civil liberties and severely compromising democracy in Wales. Vaccination would unite people and ensure co-operation, thus saving a considerable expense in policing a cull.

Vaccination is the way forward.

Dr Robbie McDonald runs FERA’s wildlife and emerging diseases programme for the Government, he is also an advisor for WAG. He is adamant that culling badgers will make bTB worse and that farmers need to start backing the vaccination programme. The work done at Woodchester Park (over some 30years) has convinced Dr McDonald that vaccinating badgers is the right way forward. He completely dismisses arguments that have been put forward against vaccination. (Farmers Guardian 4/9/09). Vaccination will start in England in May 2010 at the same time as the proposed cull is due to start in Wales. After many years of culling badgers, Southern Ireland has also now decided vaccination is the way forward.

More details are available on PAC’s website and from The Badger Trust about the measures which actually do reduce bovine TB (and the spread of infection to badgers) but might inconvenience commercial farmers.


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2010 03:15

    The new logo is fabulous!

  2. Sean permalink
    June 15, 2010 19:34

    Quite agree with all your points, especially the uncomfortable position Plaid is in now with it’s Tory overmasters. Farmers get on my tits at the best of times and it doesn’t surprise me to see them swear blind when the absolute truth is staring them in the face.

    I quite like badgers and find it a shame that they are so vilified. Still, a chicken keeper can’t have much sympathy for the foxes that kill their animals.

    Oh, and I love the new logo too.

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