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Badger cull must focus on 'delivering' desired results

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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A controversial cull of badgers at two locations in the South West is likely to begin within the next few weeks.

The go-ahead for the six-week cull, as part of the Government strategy to stamp out bovine tuberculosis, was given after the Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge by the Badger Trust to an earlier High Court ruling over the plans.

Environmental groups have said they will monitor the culls closely – and could even use citizen's arrest to prevent marksmen from shooting free-running badgers if they consider the rules are being broken.

Exactly when the culls will begin has yet to be decided. "We are still processing applications at present," said a spokesman for Natural England, the Government agency responsible for issuing licences to farmer groups carrying out the culls.

"We hope to issue licences as soon as we can – but I cannot say any more at the moment."

The two areas for the pilot culls are in West Somerset – west of Taunton and stretching up to Exmoor – and around Tewkesbury in north-west Gloucestershire, both known hotspot areas for bovine TB.

The disease has been causing havoc among cattle herds in the South West. Last year more than 26,000 cattle were culled having tested positive to TB, causing anguish to the farming community and costing tens of millions of pounds in compensation.

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) welcomed the Court of Appeal ruling. "It takes us further down the route to the right result," said Ian Johnson, NFU spokesman in the South West. "We are not over-duly triumphant about this, because it's not the route anyone wants to take, but it's the best one we have available. We now have to focus on delivering it."

Meanwhile, the National Beef Association (NBA) has appealed to farmers to support the pilot culls.

Bill Harper, the NBA's South West TB representative, said: "It's vitally important farmers support this course of action as the only legal method available to the industry to break the chain of this disease."

He said the "final hurdle" towards legalised control of badgers to prevent TB had now been cleared.

"The timing of this ruling was important if we are to get the pilot areas active this autumn. We are fully committed to proving that organised legal control by qualified marksmen is the best way to control this terrible disease."

A high-profile campaign has been waged against the cull by the Badger Trust and other animal organisations, including the RSPCA, joined by scientists and celebrities.

There was consternation when the names and contact details of people involved in organising the cull were published on a website – and the Coalition of Badger Action Groups has promised to monitor culls closely, taking direct though non-aggressive action when members deem it necessary.

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  • ssimples  |  September 13 2012, 4:57PM

    In terms of TB control GB has gone from being world leading from 1997 to 1986 to one today which is a national disgrace. What happened to GB to cause this massive change around? Is it because in 1986 farmers in GB started to behave very differently to farmers abroad where countries are either TB free or have TB under control? From comments in many forums many people believe farming practices are the cause. Perhaps farmers in GB need to act like farmers abroad. Of course this is rubbish. In just 25 years the incidence of TB in cattle in GB has increased by more than 40 times as seen by these figures which were taken from the Chief Veterinary Officer's Annual Reports and were supplied to me by DEFRA. Year....Number of cattle slaughtered 1977....764 1978....668 1979....633 1980....873 1981....784 1982....569 1983....621 1984....660 1985....699 1986....513 Now let's look at the next 10 years. Year......Number of cattle slaughtered 1987.....810 1988.....688 1989.....901 1990....1048 1991....1124 1992....1244 1993....1965 1994....2304 1995....2896 1996....3253 This represents a four-fold increase in 10 years. In 2011 in GB, the number of cattle slaughtered (not including cases detected in slaughter houses or direct contacts) had reached 22,437. This is over a 40-fold increase from the number in 1986. If anyone is interested to know what went wrong, Google "1986-1997 Interim strategy". This will also give a clue as to what needs to be done.

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  • josdave  |  September 13 2012, 3:51PM

    The cull will not be effective and that is born out by the results of previous culls. It will cost a lot of money and will only result in a smal reduction, estimated 16%, in the amount of bovineTB cases. What also needs to be looked at is the intensive farming practices and the transport arrangements of livestock as these also have a bearing on the problem. As for the first comment why should we toe the EU line as their Common Agriculture Policy has got us into more trouble than ever we could have had without it?

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 2:16PM

    The 1981 Zuckerman Report is outdated, this was the reason the government commissioned the KREBS report which states "a badger cull would be INEFFECTIVE in tackling bTB in cattle". The report goes on to say that "vaccination would be a better solution" http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf http://tinyurl.com/9lmonj3

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 2:15PM

    Lord Krebs said the trial evidence should be interpreted as an argument against culling. "You cull intensively for at least four years, you will have a net benefit of reducing TB in cattle of 12% to 16%. So you leave 85% of the problem still there, having gone to a huge amount of trouble to kill a huge number of badgers," he said. "It doesn't seem to be an effective way of controlling the disease." He said a better option would be to try to develop a vaccine in the long term, and in the short term to use better "biosecurity" measures to prevent cattle from coming into contact with badgers and other sources of the disease, and to prevent them passing it to each other. http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf http://tinyurl.com/9lmonj3

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  • dodgethebulle  |  September 13 2012, 2:15PM

    Badger culling is "ineffective", the expert behind the UK's biggest review of the links between badgers and tuberculosis in cattle, said on Monday. Professor Lord John Krebs was the government adviser responsible for the scientific review in the 1990s which found that badgers were a "reservoir" of bovine TB and could transmit the disease to cattle. He called for trial culls, which were then carried out. But he said on Monday the results of the trials showed that culling was "not an effective policy" and would be a mistake." http://tinyurl.com/69sqykf We need 100,000 people to sign now. Please share, tell your friends and sign. We need your help. There are 65,000 people who reach 1.5m friends so please share and sign NOW http://tinyurl.com/8odb3eg https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257/signature/new

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  • ssimples  |  September 13 2012, 11:13AM

    It looks like the EU are not impressed with the change in direction which the current Welsh government have introduced towards vaccination. The following is an extract from the recent EU report referred to in the link below. The Welsh eradication plan will lose some impetus as badger culling will now be replaced with badger vaccination. This was not part of the original strategy that consisted of a comprehensive plan that has now been disrupted. There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that badger vaccination will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle. However there is considerable evidence to support the removal of badgers in order to improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. UK politicians must accept their responsibility to their own farmers and taxpayers as well as to the rest of the EU and commit to a long-term strategy that is not dependent on elections. REPORT OF THE BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS SUB-GROUP, EUROPEAN COMMISSION HEALTH & CONSUMERS DIRECTORATE-GENERAL, Veterinary and international affaires, Meeting held in The UK 27-28 March 2012. http://tinyurl.com/8esb3cd

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  • ssimples  |  September 13 2012, 11:07AM

    It looks like the EU are not impressed with the change in direction which the current Welsh government have introduced towards vaccination. The following is an extract from the recent EU report referred to in the link below. The Welsh eradication plan will lose some impetus as badger culling will now be replaced with badger vaccination. This was not part of the original strategy that consisted of a comprehensive plan that has now been disrupted. There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that badger vaccination will reduce the incidence of TB in cattle. However there is considerable evidence to support the removal of badgers in order to improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. UK politicians must accept their responsibility to their own farmers and taxpayers as well as to the rest of the EU and commit to a long-term strategy that is not dependent on elections. REPORT OF THE BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS SUB-GROUP, EUROPEAN COMMISSION HEALTH & CONSUMERS DIRECTORATE-GENERAL, Veterinary and international affaires, Meeting held in The UK 27-28 March 2012. http://tinyurl.com/8esb3cd

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