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Badger cull is 'on track' to start says NFU

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 29, 2012

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The start of a badger cull in the South West remains weeks away as farmers still need to prove they have sufficient cash to conduct the night-time shooting operation.

The maximum number of animals permitted to be slaughtered has also yet to be decided as officials seek to ensure that populations are not wiped out completely in the target areas.

Last week, Natural England licensed a badger cull in Gloucestershire, with a start date expected within weeks.

The group yesterday said a licence for the West Somerset trial was expected to be issued "within days". Some protesters claim that farmers are losing heart after more than 100,000 people signed a petition against the cull and celebrities including Queen guitarist Brian May and TV wildlife presenterChris Packham spoke out against the Government policy.

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However, farmers insist they are "on schedule" but just have to make sure teams of marksmen are ready to carry out the shooting safely and humanely as possible.

Before they are allowed to go ahead with the shooting farmers must prove to Natural England they have raised around £150,000 to fund the cull over the four-year period and have the shooters authorised.

Once these first steps are completed it is thought that up to two weeks will be required to get badgers into the habit of coming into the earmarked areas, using bait.

Adam Quinney, vice-president of the National Farmers' Union, said the process is running smoothly in West Gloucestershire.

Farmers in the area are trialling free shooting as well as caging and shooting and vaccinating in areas where farmers are uncomfortable with a cull, he said.

Mr Quinney revealed that a company has been set up to gather the funds and organise a team of marksmen.

"There is a lot of work to do, it is not a five-minute process to do it correctly but it is on schedule," he added.

"Even when we start we have to have a period of two weeks of baiting, acclimatising and vaccinating."

Natural England confirmed the cull will not happen until all the necessary measures have been taken to ensure it is humane and successful.

Surveys of badger setts must also be reviewed, along with estimates of animal numbers, before the quango fixes a minimum number of badgers to be killed to make the plan a success and a maximum number to "prevent extinction" a spokesman said. "Collection [of funds] only formally started last week and we would not expect funds to be fully in place after so short a time," he added. "We are not aware of any problems that have arisen over the first week."

If successful, the trials could be followed by ten cull zones each year for four years in bovine TB hotspots, with some likely in the Westcountry.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 02 2012, 9:04AM

    There is no debate to be had. . There has to be a cull to protect ALL mammals, and more particularly humans now. You can't 'debate' a science with people who know nothing about it, and refuse to acknowledge the science that the rest of intelligent life on the planet knows to be accurate.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 02 2012, 8:56AM

    Even your 'name' "expect_us" has been chosen because you perceive it as 'threatening'. You don't scare anybody except a few of the more elderly farmers' wives. Proud of yourselves are you?

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  • Charlespk  |  October 02 2012, 8:51AM

    Rude!!!?? . How dare you!! You people start and can't handle the REAL science, so you resort to abuse. Insulting farmers and veterinaries has been your communal Modus Operandi from the very beginning. It's all on record, that's why so many of your posts get removed.

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  • expect_us  |  October 01 2012, 11:38PM

    ..and the majority of people like myself can get by with just the one laptop. Why would we need more if we have conviction in our beliefs?

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  • Charlespk  |  October 01 2012, 12:31PM

    Some people DO know what they are talking about. Email received December 30 2009 DEFRA and bovine TB After some 30 years as a country vet for cattle mainly I feel entitled to comment. When a vet surgeon is called out to treat a cow or a whole herd of cattle it is vital that he finds the real cause of the trouble. Quite often this is an infection by a species of bacterium, virus, a mycosis or when there are parasites involved. It is common that there is a mix or environmental influences e.g. a draught in the calf shed. It is the skill and experience of a successful vet to find the real diagnose and to treat or eliminate the very cause. . Infections by bacteria are normally treated with antibiotics and disinfectants and subsequent preventing methods. If an infection is treated soon after starting success is most of the time quick and guaranteed. Not so easy to treat are chronic infections. Bovine Tuberculosis ( bTB ) is in 99% of all cases a very chronic disease, mainly because of the extremely slow multiplying of these bacteria. Apart from bTB there are quite a number of other strains causing Tuberculosis like the human strain, the strain causing leprosy, the avian strain, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis ( Johns disease ) and others which are even harmless. There are a lot of vaccines against all kind of infections on the market. They normally give quite reliable results if administered correctly and in healthy animals ( and humans ). For Tuberculosis the common vaccine is the BCG which was found some 80 years ago and has been used to vaccinate healthy babies mainly. BCG does not prevent an infection like all other vaccines; it just keeps it from becoming generalized, thus reducing the risk that the bacteria are swept into various other organs followed by massive excretion ( coughing, urine, faeces, milk etc ). There is scientific evidence that the efficiency of BCG is not more than 50 % and in a lot of countries it is therefore not used any longer. Any animal, group or herd of with bTB is a focus and as long as such a focus is not eliminated it is a high risk for further infections. It is outrageous that these aspects are widely ignored by DEFRA for years now with absolutely no end in sight. In 2008 over 40,000 head of cattle reacting to bTB were slaughtered (10 % annual increase to be expected ) and nobody knows how many 10,000s of badgers and their setts are infected. Thus the infection within this most relevant wildlife reservoir is permanently growing including all its risks of infecting further cattle, other farm animals, pets and humans. Vaccinating badgers cannot be the solution for there are locally far too many badgers and setts infected and vaccinating cattle with BCG is in my view absolutely contraindicated for the only way of diagnosing bTB in cattle will be seriously compromised. DEFRA thinks to manage to develop a DIVA test thus being able to differentiate between a skin reaction caused by bTB and the one caused by BCG. It is unclear if such a test ever will reach permission or Europeanwide approbation; however there is a high risk that some countries will decide at some stage that they are not interested in any English beef products any longer when it cannot be guaranteed that there is no bTB. The routine bTB skin test alone in many cases is unreliable enough ( inconclusive or even false negative results ) and the Gamma Interferon bloodtest - apart from being expensive - is quite often hampered by some other influences. There definitely is no need of another uncertainty in this whole issue. It is horror for me to see how things are going the wrong way and every month some hundred more farms are starting suffering dramatically. It is not 5 minutes before noon to rethink this whole approach by DEFRA - politically steered as it is - NO it is half past noon and even with a quick U turn the future of battling bTB looks bleak. Dr Ueli Zellweger Somerset.

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  • dodgethebulle  |  October 01 2012, 11:53AM

    Badger cull in the interests of no one. Once again a British government has chosen to seek the best possible scientific advice and then ignore it! The licensed killing of badgers in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset could achieve a number of things. It could further advertise the unwelcome existence of bovine tuberculosis in British dairy herds. It could polarise opinion in the countryside and unite political opposition everywhere else. It could cost the farmers involved more than they could gain. It will almost certainly provoke active protest and put even more pressure on already hard-pressed police forces. What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset. It might be helpful to list those things that are certain. Human tuberculosis is a dangerous disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a real problem for dairy farmers – who in any case have been paid too little for their milk and who have been going out of business for decades – and the disease lives on in the wild badger population. But by 1996, a policy of identification and slaughter had reduced the incidence of bovine TB in dairy herds in England and Wales to less than half a per cent, and the risk of direct transmission to humans has – with the pasteurisation of milk – long ago become negligible. The last and most systematic examination of the link between badgers and bovine TB found that, indeed, there was transmission, and proposed a series of systematic, randomised controlled trials over a sustained period to see whether culling could provide an answer. In 2003, the government, farmers, public health officers and wildlife campaigners got the answer: shooting and gassing did not eliminate, and could possibly spread, the disease. That may be because badgers disturbed in one area could migrate, taking the infection with them. The answer, delivered by Lord Krebs and the distinguished statisticians and zoologists who examined the results, could hardly be clearer: killing will not solve the problem. Lord Krebs's scientific credentials are not in doubt. He was trusted by successive British governments to head the Natural Environment Research Council, and to chair the Food Standards Agency. And he has just described the latest plan as a "crazy scheme". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • Charlespk  |  September 30 2012, 7:22PM

    Interesting:- Although rarely eaten today in the United States or the United Kingdom, badger was once one of the main meat sources in the diets of Native Americans and white colonists. Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s, more commonly by gypsies. . Apparently in France, badger meat was used in the preparation of several dishes, such as Blarieur au sang and it was a relatively common ingredient in countryside cuisine. Badger meat was also eaten in some parts of Spain until recently. . Source Wikipedia.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 30 2012, 6:43PM

    Well it is October tomorrow. only about 13 weeks to go.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 30 2012, 6:34PM

    I see we're starting early this year! :)) http://tinyurl.com/c8xeugw

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 30 2012, 3:31PM
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