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TV stars back opposition to badger cull with e-petition

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 19, 2012

Brian May

Brian May

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Celebrities and animal lovers have rounded on the Government over sanctioning a cull of badgers to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in cattle that is rife in the far South West.

Government agency Natural England announced on Monday it has awarded a licence to kill badgers in Gloucestershire that could last for four years. A second cull is likely to be given the go-ahead in Somerset within days, with both poised to start in a matter of weeks.

But the decision has been condemned by wildlife expert Bill Oddie, Queen guitarist Brian May, and broadcaster Chris Packham. A Government e-petition, which could trigger a debate in the House of Commons, has attracted almost 44,000 signatures as it receives endorsements from high-profile names on social media website Twitter.

If the night-time culls prove to be safe, efficient and humane after a six-week "pilot" period they will be extended to four years, and pave the way for up to ten more licences a year to be issued in other livestock tuberculosis hotspots from June 2013.

Mr Oddie, who used to front BBC Springwatch, said the cull flew in the face of scientific evidence, and criticised Environment Secretary Owen Paterson for pushing ahead with the cull, which will be carried out by trained marksmen.

As a child, Mr Paterson kept two pet badgers, Bessie and Baz. He first mentioned them in Parliament when in Opposition seven years ago, saying: "It grieves me to think that the descendants of my badgers could be suffering a hideous death due to Government neglect on TB."

Mr Oddie said: "The decision is not only appalling for the badgers, it is also arrogant, ignorant and insulting to the researchers and scientists that are advising against it. But then judging from his scepticism on climate change, Owen Patterson clearly has little respect for science. Or compassion.

"Apparently when he was a little boy he had two badgers as pets. Perhaps they got more attention than he did? Maybe the cull is some kind of vendetta. Beware budgies, white mice, hamsters, dogs and pussy cats. You're next."

Mr May re-iterated his long-standing opposition and Mr Packham said: "I feel sick that the science has been forsaken and that badgers will be sacrificed for our stupidity and selfishness."

Animal welfare groups are also against culling. RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: "The dairy industry has endured terrible times while trying to cope with this devastating disease.

"However, we have never been convinced that the best way to help farmers is to force them to foot the bill for a contentious cull that is only expected to reduce outbreaks by about 16%. This is a lot of effort for a small gain."

The Department for Environment points to the ten-year Randomised Badger Culling Trial as its scientific justification for the 16% reduction, which ministers say is significant.

Thousands of badgers, which carry the disease, will be killed. Some 26,000 cattle were slaughtered last year to control TB, which could eventually cost the taxpayer £1 billion, the Government says. Vaccination is unproven and costly, it says.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  September 21 2012, 12:41PM

    Pet dog or pet cat goes round field and happens upon badger latrines. Unknown to owner, pet picks up TB and sneezes over young child. Young child, because of hardship is not eating vitamin enriched food and the house is cold and damp because parents can't afford to heat house. Bit like the early 1900's when consumption was very common in the poorer areas. Still never mind the badgerists don't want badgers culled, because they are more important than human beings.

    |   -25
  • Chelstonlass  |  September 21 2012, 9:56AM

    when are you going to get the message? Long comments put people off, regardless of content! Keep it simple- a bit like this. Badger culling will be based on flimsy evidence and abhorred by anyone with a live of wildlife. I don't want blood on my hands so it will not be done in my name. Stop taking the easy option and using badgers as scapegoats. Give them the benefit of the tremendous doubts held by learned people over this.

    |   22
  • Charlespk  |  September 21 2012, 8:52AM

    Thank you ALL for once again demonstrating CLEARLY your TOTAL ignorance of the serious problem this country is now facing for ignoring the threat and just letting these bacteria carry on insidiously increasing in the wild, because you think it doesn't affect you. Apart from the obviously now very urgent imperative to end the slaughter of thousands of reactor cattle that's causing endless misery for farming families; those of us who care about children, way above their own self-promotion, know that there has to be a badger cull or eventually we'll just have more and more of this. EMAIL SENT/RECEIVED April 2nd. 2006 County Times. Powys, Mid Wales. "Dear Mary, This is winding up into something very nasty. We were told about the problem last autumn, but the newspapers / media had very little on it. Local vets and farmers knew and fed us bits. This (below) was published 30th. March, and our source has now had another conversation with SVS vets and private vets in the area. In the late 1990's just a couple of farms were under bTb restriction, but that has now surged to become 30/40. Dead badgers have been found in the area, including one on school playing fields. This carcass was taken to test for 'poison'. but HSE stepped in and stopped the postmortem - inadequate Group 3 pathogen facilities (?). . It was riddled. SVS sent letters to Welsh Assembly / Page St. and they were lost stolen or strayed. The whole episode was buried. Page St. wanted absolutely no positive Tb badgers. In the last 3/4 years eight or nine children, not including this little one, have had treatment for enlarged neck glands. This involved either a 6 month course of antibiotics, or operations to remove. Classic m.bovis lesions I'm told (by a vet) but referred euphemistically by doctors as "Atypical tuberculosis from a non human source". They are telling these kids, that they picked it up from the ground. The badgers use the school playing fields as latrines, and a newish housing estate borders the same farmland too. We're ignoring those canaries again. (reactor cows)" http://tinyurl.com/9r6ennv (open in a new window) It's time to wake up and smell the coffee. Don't you have any children or pets? http://tinyurl.com/3zpxybr (open in a new window)

    |   -20
  • Bod66  |  September 20 2012, 8:59PM

    Quote........... "How many people in Third World countries have the spoligotype and VNTR profile of their infection taken when or before they die?. . Your ignorance of the whole M.tuberculosis genus and the disease it causes is appalling"..... Whats this to do with Badgers in the South West?...

    |   22
  • Charlespk  |  September 20 2012, 9:57AM

    How many people in Third World countries have the spoligotype and VNTR profile of their infection taken when or before they die?. . Your ignorance of the whole M.tuberculosis genus and the disease it causes is appalling, as it is with the majority of badgerists. http://tinyurl.com/8a7bwy9 (open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/bwxembw (open in a new window) XDR M.bovis probably caught in Argentina http://tinyurl.com/6ddk4pb (open in a new window) FACT. Back in 1997, Dr. Jerome Harms, now Senior Scientist, Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote. "Recently, there have been many outbreaks of M.bovis caused tuberculosis in humans especially HIV+ patients. Most have occurred in countries where M.bovis is endemic in the animal agriculture population. Multi-drug resistant strains of M.bovis are now appearing as well. The significance of this TB threat from M.bovis has not been taken as seriously as the threat from M.tuberculosis (Human TB)." "However, the scientific and medical community must not ignore the potential of an M.bovis TB epidemic." TB is at a 30 year high in the UK. . London is now the TB capital of Europe. If we just WAIT until it happens, it will be far too late. . There aren't enough hospital beds, or capable nursing staff, now.

    |   -20
  • Chelstonlass  |  September 20 2012, 9:51AM

    Well done on taking my advice on shorter posts - it concentrates the mind on what you're trying to say even though I don't agree with it! In fact it's way over my head. On a basic, humane , caring level I do not want to see wildlife culled on flimsy evidence and being used as a scapegoat by those in authority. Baffle me with science etc but it won't change my mind!

    |   18
  • Charlespk  |  September 20 2012, 9:49AM

    You need more practice with the Red Arrows. . You're very slow today How many people in Third World countries have the spoligotype and VNTR profile of their infection taken when or before they die?. . Your ignorance of the whole M.tuberculosis genus and the disease it causes is appalling, as it is with the majority of badgerists. http://tinyurl.com/8a7bwy9 (open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/bwxembw (open in a new window) XDR M.bovis probably caught in Argentina http://tinyurl.com/6ddk4pb (open in a new window) FACT. Back in 1997, Dr. Jerome Harms, now Senior Scientist, Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote. "Recently, there have been many outbreaks of M.bovis caused tuberculosis in humans especially HIV+ patients. Most have occurred in countries where M.bovis is endemic in the animal agriculture population. Multi-drug resistant strains of M.bovis are now appearing as well. The significance of this TB threat from M.bovis has not been taken as seriously as the threat from M.tuberculosis (Human TB)." "However, the scientific and medical community must not ignore the potential of an M.bovis TB epidemic." TB is at a 30 year high in the UK. . London is now the TB capital of Europe. If we just WAIT until it happens, it will be far too late. . There aren't enough hospital beds, or capable nursing staff, now.

    |   -26
  • Charlespk  |  September 20 2012, 8:23AM

    A Womans's Drug-Resistent TB Echoes Around The World. http://tinyurl.com/cubqlvm (open in a new window)

    |   -37
  • Charlespk  |  September 20 2012, 8:16AM

    How many people in Third World countries have the spoligotype and VNTR profile of their infection taken when or before they die?. . Your ignorance of the whole M.tuberculosis genus and the disease it causes is appalling, as it is with the majority of badgerists.

    |   -38
  • Charlespk  |  September 20 2012, 8:15AM

    How many people in Third World countries have the spoligotype and VNTR profile of their infection taken when or before they die?. . Your ignorance of the whole M.tuberculosis genus and the disease it causes is appalling, as it is with the majority of badgerists. http://tinyurl.com/8a7bwy9 (open in a new window) http://tinyurl.com/bwxembw (open in a new window) XDR M.bovis probably caught in Argentina http://tinyurl.com/6ddk4pb (open in a new window) FACT. Back in 1997, Dr. Jerome Harms, now Senior Scientist, Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote. "Recently, there have been many outbreaks of M.bovis caused tuberculosis in humans especially HIV+ patients. Most have occurred in countries where M.bovis is endemic in the animal agriculture population. Multi-drug resistant strains of M.bovis are now appearing as well. The significance of this TB threat from M.bovis has not been taken as seriously as the threat from M.tuberculosis (Human TB)." "However, the scientific and medical community must not ignore the potential of an M.bovis TB epidemic." TB is at a 30 year high in the UK. . London is now the TB capital of Europe. If we just WAIT until it happens, it will be far too late. . There aren't enough hospital beds, or capable nursing staff, now.

    |   -36

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