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Derek Mead: Costs of badger TB vaccination programme in Welsh scheme are excessive

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 06, 2013

Comments (12)

Here's food for thought for all the pro-badger groups who have been complaining that the cost of the forthcoming pilot culls is excessive. Figures from Wales show that the vaccination programme there has so far cost more than £660 an animal.

And this, let's remind ourselves, for an operation which is seriously flawed and comes with no guarantee that it will do anything about making inroads into the huge TB problem Wales is now gripped by. Having been scared off culling by the activities of a few hard-core campaigners and their supporters in the Assembly government, the authorities in Wales have so far managed to vaccinate 1,424 badgers in the North Pembrokeshire intensive action area. But here's the nub of it: no-one can tell what percentage of the region's badger population this represents. And, as farmers' leaders are pointing out, it may well be that many of the animals trapped and vaccinated were already infected with TB, in which case the treatment will have zero effect.

So who is going to stand up and defend a policy which is not only costly, not only hit-and-miss and whose effectiveness no-pone can judge? Only the usual suspects, the Brian Mays and the other hand-wringers who are entirely happy to see farmers put out of business, who are entirely happy that the taxpayer has had to fork out for a likely 40,000 cattle slaughterings last year, who are equally entirely happy for thousands of their cherished badgers to die painfully and slowly from the effects of TB – and who are entirely happy for meat and milk production in this country to be threatened as never before. The same ones, as has been shown recently, who manipulate the statistics to try to fool the public into believing that TB is in retreat when the reality is that it is still rampaging out of control and that we are likely to see a massive resurgence of cases this spring.

The word from the Government is that ministers are not prepared to even think about evaluating alternative methods of tackling the badger menace until the early summer culls have been completed and the results assessed. But let's just not forget one thing: those two pilot culls will not be assessed in terms of their impact on local TB cases. They are merely being staged in order to assess the effectiveness of free shooting of badgers. So by the time the results are in and have been collated it's going to be at least a year before Owen Paterson can press the button for a national cull to go ahead; another year for TB to have tightened its deadly grip on our herds.

And already I hear mutterings from some police forces to the effect that they won't have the manpower to cope with the animal rights activists who plan to do all they can to disrupt the killing.

It hardly fills me with any confidence that the Government and its advisers have really grasped the full extent of the problem or are doing anything apart from obeying their political masters in Brussels when it comes to tackling it.

Derek Mead is an entrepreneur dairy farmer from Weston-super-Mare

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12 comments

  • AtrixMan  |  February 09 2013, 10:22AM

    It is perfectly legal under the badger protection act to kill a badger which appears to be so seriously injured or in such a condition that to kill it would be an act of mercy.

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  • Jake_Blake  |  February 08 2013, 11:26PM

    And I guess the next vaccination group's going to be doing it for a handful of hot gravel?

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  • Kdriscoll  |  February 08 2013, 10:51PM

    The countryman method sounds illegal badgers are protected from harm, disturbance, and killing with the Badger Act. The worry of upsetting social groups comes from culling them causing the remaining individuals to disperse. I dont think there is evidence of this happening with the vacination process which is cruelty free and doesnt upset social groups. The Badger trust has individuals carrying this out for just the cost of the vaccine around £10 per badger- and not all badgers have to be vaccinated. Let me emphasise that the problem is cattle and farming and not badgers

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  • AtrixMan  |  February 07 2013, 5:35PM

    On my farm I used the 'Countryman' method to clear TB infected badgers and subsequently clear my farm of TB. Vaccinating the remaining healthy badgers would seem the next logical step. However I am concerned that the process of capturing and then vaccinating them could upset social groups and could cause these badgers to leave my farm allowing infected ones to move back in! Does anyone have any information on this?

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  • twigcat  |  February 07 2013, 12:08AM

    Holy cow, (sorry) who wrote this tommy-rot? Derek Mead. Ah, 'nuff said!

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  • Kdriscoll  |  February 06 2013, 11:53PM

    Try adding Wildlife Groups, Academics, professionals, Children and The Science establishment, and the majority of people; including the voters and the public who do not want the cull. I am fed up of hearing the wingeing of subsidised hoodwinked farmers and their unsubstantiated unscientific claims regarding the badger cull. It was dropped as it was a purely political manover for votes and it was impractical, expensive, cruel and wouldnt work. Badgers; natural, wild and healthy animals can life with Tb unlike the overbred, hormone fuelled anti-biotic addict cattle used by most farmers for profits. Its about time farmers took responsibilty for there farms biosecurity, environmental impacts, their animals health and welfare and refrained from excessice (and illegal) animal movements.

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  • vulcan  |  February 06 2013, 5:25PM

    I am glad Mr. Mead has pointed out that 'the nub' is knowing exactly how many badgers are out there. Could he explain how the prefered policy of killing a given percentage will work when kno one knows how many badgers to kill, and when to stop killing?

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  • fischadler  |  February 06 2013, 4:07PM

    Tories are not interested in the national herd being bTBFree - if they were, they would not cut the research budget http://tinyurl.com/b2838cv

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  • Clued-Up  |  February 06 2013, 3:54PM

    According to Carla's posts on the badger cull, the vaccine cost can NOW be as low as £20 a badger; costs are coming down. Carla's a private landowner who is personally paying the bills for vaccinating the badgers on her land. The organisation doing the vaccinating is, I think, one of the national wildlife charities. I assume they're not charging for the time of the trained, government licensed volunteers, simply for the cost of the vaccine - that may explain much of the difference between the Welsh vaccination costs and the costs mentioned by fischadler and Carla. I suspect the badger groups across the UK would be very happy to find and fund volunteers for training and licensing in order to replace the government's unwanted, expensive and ineffective badger cull with a low cost and more effective badger vaccination scheme.

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  • fischadler  |  February 06 2013, 3:38PM

    Contact this company for a quote on badger vaccination : http://tinyurl.com/95qojmx

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