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Badger cull: Have your say

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 08:27 UK time, Tuesday, 28 December 2010

In the Springwatch Christmas Special the team look at the in-depth story behind the proposed badger cull. What do you think of these plans? Please let us know by commenting below. (I've posted a few important links for those wanting to find out a bit more.)

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Why does this keep happening? It was proved last time just before this particular Government took over, that the previous Government spent an inordinate amount of money trying to prove that Farmers Cattle seem to contract the Bovine TB from Badgers. In this research they spent lots of public money to resultantly prove the absolute opposite! That most of the cattle were at risk through intense farming and links to the elements in the ground NOT anything to do with whether Badgers are present or not. WHY DO WE HAVE TO KILL EVERYTHING??? When there is a problem with most wildlife, instead of finding a way of working with the wildlife the very first thought is to eradicate it and to my mind that is an extremely short sighted decision and TOTALLY WRONG. The poor Welsh lady farmer who went onto TV just before the last time this issue was raised, to defend the wonderful badgers on her land against Defras' carte blanche masacre of any Badgers, she clearly had no problems with her own cattle and her localised badgers covering the same land. NO PROBLEM, but still the Badgers were sentenced to death, after she spent a heartfelt 10 minutes explaining all about the Badgers life style and the young Badgers that were clearly underground. IF THE GOVERNMENT CAN PUT ALL THAT RESOURCE PREVIOUSLY, INTO TRYING TO MAKE THE BADGER THE CAUSE, AND THEN PROVE THE EXACT OPPOSITE, THEN THEY SHOULD ALL BE PUTTING THE SAME EFFORT INTO ACTUALLY DEALING WITH THE REAL CAUSE, AND HELP FARMERS OVERCOME THE BOVINE TB PROBLEM IN THE CORRECT WAY, NOT, a half hearted attempt at needlessly slaughtering our heritage!!! SORRY BUT IT MAKES ME VERY ANGRY.

    Yours with absolute contempt for the Cull,


    Mrs. Leslie Dowling.

  • Comment number 2.

    Most farmers I know are reasonable and sensible. However they often seem to view themselves as a minority set apart from the rest of the world and nature with all else conspiring to defeat them.

    It’s a form of communal paranoia and yet they have some reason to be paranoid. Their unions are getting fat on selling insurance rather than working with them to improve their situation and that of their livestock.

    Their Ministry (DEFRA) is getting fat surrounding them with red tape and misinformation, leading them into euro grant dependency.

    Their customers the supermarkets have cut their possibility of profit by interposing themselves between the farmer and the consumer whilst importing cheaper foriegn alternatives.

    Numbers of small dairy farmers have plummeted over the past twenty years whilst those that have survived have been forced into intensive production systems,

    Average herd sizes have trebled or more, The pastures are chemically fertilized and/or spread with potentially infectious slurry, and silaged up to three times per year. Many farmers work from dawn to dusk and into the night seven days per week just trying to pay the bank.

    And then the powers that be tell them Badgers are giving their cows bovine TB.

    After the massive culls of cattle due to foot and mouth, thousands of potentially bTB infected replacements were transported from bTB hotspots like Pembrokeshire to places that had otherwise been clean. Places like Anglesey where there had been no badgers and little bTB, bTB spread and increased to what has been described as epidemic proportions.
    Surprise, surprise! years of DEFRA/NFU complacency where a relatively stable incidence of bTB within the national herd was shaken, as infection rates and compensation figures soared. Farm biosecurity was /is largely nonexistent. bTB testing was inconsistent. DEFRA management of animal husbandry incompetent. All pretty clear to see!

    What they needed was a scapegoat, a smoke screen, some way of confusing the situation and hiding their incompetence and squandering of millions our taxpayers money... Badgers....



  • Comment number 3.

    For some reason the badger is being used as a scapegoat and has directed attention away from the real issues. Why do we need an eradication programme? It is clear from the research we have done that the current strive for eradication will not work because the skin (and blood) test used, which forms the basis of the eradication programme, is not accurate enough. Countries that claim to have eradicated the disease using the skin test (which is not accurate enough to be anything other than a herd test) have only done so by the complete depopulation of all herds where any animal reacts to the test and re-stocking is then delayed (not done in the UK).

    It is therefore somewhat disturbing that the majority, including politicians and the NFU, are so obsessed with the badger culling debate that the fundamental, long-term failures and problems of the existing inflexible, costly eradication policy are being totally disregarded. There are many questions regarding the existing system (see www.bovinetb.co.uk). If these cannot be answered then the existing policy is suspect and a re-think is needed.

    One of the aims of the policy is to protect public health, yet the very real health and safety risks from so much cattle handling are being ignored. Another aim is to make sure that cattle do not suffer because of bTB, yet the consequences of the policy, not the disease, are raising serious welfare issues. It is not disease that is crippling those involved - it is the policy. For examples see the growing number of case studies at www.bovinetb.co.uk/articles.php?category_id=32). Furthermore, UK government officials tell us that we are still years away from eradication, so the suffering for those farmers affected will continue and, both cattle and wildlife will continue to be culled needlessly and at great public cost.

    Why all this fuss about bovine TB? There is not the same concern given to the human form, which is on the increase (ref 1) -humans are not being tested and culled; those effected are not even segregated. Bovine TB represents less than 1% of human cases of TB and is no longer considered the human health risk (ref 2) it once was now that virtually all milk is heat-treated. The ‘eradication’ policy appears to exist mainly to protect a dwindling livestock export, (in 2009 just 11,050 cattle were exported, with a value of £152,000).
    The few reports undertaken regarding cost effectiveness of badger culling have shown it to be very poor value for money. There is little evidence given anywhere for the continued justification of the current draconian and expensive eradication policy, either on the grounds of costs, human or animal health! In fact it is now more about meeting political deadlines and targets. 60 years of test/cull in the UK and pockets of TB have always remained, and probably always will, as the bacteria are so widespread across the world. Even in so-called bTB-free areas cases spring up with surprising regularity.

    Interestingly DEFRA does reveal, in the latest consultation documents, that a vaccination for cattle will be available in 2012 (with a DIVA test). The BCG vaccine is not perfect – but then neither is the existing skin (or blood) test! Bearing in mind the average lifespan of most cattle, vaccination could be used as a successful control, rather than eradication, policy. However, the EU procedures will not be completed until 2015! This is not good enough and derogation should be sought so a vaccination programme can be started for cattle as a matter of urgency (already successful in Ethiopia where they cannot afford to keep culling cattle needlessly). Then surely wildlife reservoirs will no longer be a problem!

    Ref 1 Health Protection Agency report, ‘Tuberculosis in the UK: Annual report on tuberculosis surveillance in the UK 2010’. The trend of a gradual rise in the number of tuberculosis cases observed over the last 20 years continued in 2009, with a 4.2% rise giving an overall rate of 15 cases per 100,000 population in the UK. A total of 9,040 cases of tuberculosis were reported in 2009 with the majority of disease concentrated in urban centres. All 19 primary care organisations with a rate of 40 per 100,000 or more were in major urban areas. London accounts for 38% of cases, with a rate of 44.4 per 100,000.
    Ref 2 ‘Public Health and bovine tuberculoisis: what’s all the fuss about?’ They propose that the continuing bTB programme in the UK is economically unacceptable as a public health intervention. Furthermore, they believe data is lacking with regards to the positive economic effects to animal health. There should be a shift away from prevention in cattle, whilst continuing with the regulation of milk and meat. This should provide adequate public health protection at relatively modest costs.

  • Comment number 4.

    It concerns me that human's feel the need to instinctively destroy rather than conserve. Hopefully, one day we'll all come to realise that living in harmony with nature and ourselves is the true way forward.

  • Comment number 5.

    Can we not simply use "Common Sense"?

    So far studies have overwhelming shown either a cull does not work or at best is, not effective!

    I have a question for Chris Packham though...... Is it not also true that Cats, Deer, Moles, Rats and Humans have "T.B."?

    AND the next for culling is? I realise cross species disease doesn't normally happen, but it happens in "Flu" so who knows?

    Or should vaccination be better and keep politics out of it?

    Regards,

    Chris Fry

  • Comment number 6.

    Hats of to Katie Humble and her ancesters. One amazing and moving programme that deserves gratitude to her family from all of us. Bet that excelled all of your expectations!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Oh and if your looking for owls try 16 foot bank between the 142 and upwell (near welney) just outside March

  • Comment number 8.

    How much does it cost to have your cattle vaccinated? Or have farmers thought about breeds of cattle that are hardened to T.B?
    Also it is sad to hear that people seem to have a love it or hate it response with everything in nature, people don't give nature a chance to show them how truely wonderful it is in all its forms.

  • Comment number 9.

    ANOTHER GREEDY ACT BY THE DISGUSTING DESEASE THAT IS THE HUMAN RACE!!!!!



    badgers have souls too!

  • Comment number 10.

    The Killing of Badgers has no purpose. It is a just a panic reaction. Badgers are beautiful animals. They deserve the right to live. The connection between them and Bovine TB is still tenuous. SAVE THE BADGER and our wildlife heritage.
    Nicholas ( East London near Epping Forest)

  • Comment number 11.

    It not about saving everything thats fluffy and cute, its about doing the right thing, and making an informed balanced decision based on the scientific evidence available. Yes, luckily it came out in favour of the dear and beloved badger, but you have to consider the human impact too. Farmers livlihoods are at stake, and i for one while being anti-cull, can see both sides of the arguement. Vaccination must be implemented to help prevent this horrid disease. Farmers have a part to play too, but with the government closing local cattle markets and exposing an increasing number of cattle to cows from further a field on a regular basis, with the regional cattle markets they are making a bad situation worse. When will come sense prevail in whitehall????????/

  • Comment number 12.

    Badgers have been here for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It is unbelievable that a vacine for cattle has not been developed long before now if TB is such a huge problem for farmers. Is it not purely because of th cost to the farmer that would be incurred by administering such a vacine? Leave the badgers in peace! Enough are killed on roads which have been constructed across their ancient pathways by man.

  • Comment number 13.

    BTB is spreading because the test they do on cattle is only roughly 80% effective. Recently a farmer locally was cleared of having bTB, they sent cattle that same day to slaughter, 1 of which was riddled with bTB. That cow could have been sold to another farmer and would have infected their stock and the local badger population.

  • Comment number 14.

    Do we know what other wild animals may be infected with bovine TB - such as deer - and whether these infect domestic cattle? Focusing only on the badger population is meaningless if there are other sources of infection in the wild. Can anyone tell us what research has been done on this?

  • Comment number 15.

    As a keen viewer of Countryfile and "Adams farm", I can sympathise with the frustrations, anxieties and heartache felt by farmers who are affected by bovine TB, but wholesale culling of badgers is not the answer. We must learn to live alongside nature or we are in danger of destroying it, along with ourselves. The way forward is through research into vaccines for both cattle and badgers, not the slaughter of a wonderful animal that's an integral part of the British countryside.

  • Comment number 16.

    I do not think that badgers are the problem, I think the government should be looking at the feed that is given to their cattle as I believe that they are fed on ground up animal carcasses which is imported from places like India and we all know how rife TB is in these countries

  • Comment number 17.

    Well folks, the consultation dates for England and Wales has closed, I don't know about you but I for one intend to fight for the badger until the last minute.
    The consultation has been a good copy of the 3rd world elections. We were told any petitions would only count as one vote, then draft type letters were not acceptable,
    WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) sent out approx 25000 leaflets to every dwelling in the high incidence area, this scenario is as follows:
    Subject: Another Blunder Over Welsh Badgers

    Mistake reveals the politics of the blunderbuss, says Badger Trust.

    The Welsh Assembly Government has published yet another blatantly misleading mistake over bovine tuberculosis. Last month it had to retract a claim that killing badgers would reduce herd infections by 50 percent but in its apology claimed:

    Previous trials [not listed] have shown that culling badgers can reduce TB in cattle. Benefits could be seen in six months. [1]

    However, only in January 2010 it said:

    Our aim is to eradicate TB from the [Intensive Action Pilot Area]. This will take years to achieve and it could go up in the short term. It may take up to three years before we see a reduction in TB cattle in the area [2].

    David Williams, the chairman of the Badger Trust, said: “It is shameful that the WAG proposes the protracted slaughter of thousands of badgers apparently with no clear idea of what benefits, if any, could be expected. Even the latest apology has no foundation in science. The broad policy proposals have been missold to the public and, crucially, to farmers.

    “The subject – and the badgers – deserve careful science, not the politics of the blunderbuss”.

    This was quickly followed by a Ban imposed on a Secret World Wildlife Trust adverts taken out asking for the Pilot Culling Schemes to be stopped. The Advertising Standards Authority banned the adverts after "2" yes TWO complaints (of course one was from the WFU).

    I really do hope our Farmers step back and re-consider what the true implications of a cull are going to mean, on their finances and extra work and responsibility and also on the healthy badgers in England and Wales. The tragedy in all of this, is the badger, a truly wonderful creature. The female has the ability to chose to have, or not, offspring each year, if conditions and food supply are right she breeds, if not, she aborts. The badger is one of only two species in the world to have this ability and she uses it. Only the dominant female breeds. At present, most badgers are staying in their setts to conserve energy, they don't hibernate, they just slow themselves down until food is readily available then again they astound us. It takes most species several hours to reap the benefits of a meal in energy, not the badger, they can arrange to have immediate energy access from food. If only the human race had half of their abilities. We should be proud to have this UK indigenous animal.

    One thing we cannot do is be able to tell whether a badger is healthy, has bTB or is infectious, the only way this can be confirmed is at Post Mortum. That's right, kill it to see if it's healthy. I believe we were put on this earth as caretakers and should leave it at least the same if not better than we found it.

    Without programmes like Springwatch, many of the public would never have the chance to see wild animals in their natural habitat. Springwatch and Autumnwatch are an invaluable source of wildlife education they deserve to go on for at least the next 50 years.

    This is the time the gloves will be coming off, the MP's have their say and it's too late for WAG to correct information to the public . There is only one way forward for anyone with a conscience, THE PROPOSAL FOR A CULL MUST BE WITHDRAWN, in both England and Wales and the government must put all the cash they can muster into a vaccination project. Remember, humans caused the increase in bTB after Foot-and-Mouth, don't make badgers pay for our mistakes.

    Yvonne Anthony

  • Comment number 18.

    With GM, vaccination and the opportunity cost of £100mn a year, it seems ridiculous that widespread culling of badgers is the only viable solution. It is completely unacceptable and whilst we berate the developing world for deforestation and other ecological catastrophes, we're happy to contemplate the destruction of a species which is intrinsic to our own delicate ecological balance. This is complete madness.

  • Comment number 19.

    its another scapegoat policy by stupid politicians trying to keep
    narrow minded farmers happy . why dont they just vaccinate the cattle .


    cheers gavin chambers

  • Comment number 20.

    Hello Jill,
    Bovine TB can affect all mammals. Some animals are more susceptible than others to catching and transmitting the disease. These include cattle, badgers, camelids (alpacas, llamas, guanacos, vicunas), goats and wild deer amongst others but the badger gets the blame.

    Here are some official figures for Wales, taken from a report given to
    Elin Jones, Welsh Government Assembly:

    Elin Jones No. of submissions No of Infected
    2nd Annual Report to VLA for TB animals diagnosed
    2009/2010. Examinations with M.Bovis in
    2009

    Deer 52 19
    Domestic Pig 116 23
    Alpaca 120 68
    Llama 3 0
    Sheep 9 5
    Goat 14 0
    Ferret 1 0
    Farmed Wild Boar 2 0

    Source: Vetinary Laboratories Agency TB Culture database.

    A follow-up study was undertaken in 2009/10 on samples from wild Deer on Private Estates. I do not have the results.
    I hope this helps you
    Yvonne Anthony

  • Comment number 21.

    Many of the people who have posted comments here are rightfully angry about the proposed badger cull and I fully agree with them . However I believe that everyone has so far missed a far more fundamental point that has implications for wildlife and the enviroment that are far more wide reaching than just badgers.
    The only reason why there are any possible links between badgers and bTB is that we as humans demand more and more land for agriculture and constantly push farming into wildlife habitats thereby depriving wildlife of any chance of an undisturbed life.
    I believe that the facts speak for themselves, raising livestock requires at least 5 times more land than growing arable crops due to the fact that domestic animals can only convert 10-25% of what they eat into meat or other "useful" products. This means that most of the food that is fed to domestic animals is effectively wasted, and lets face it most farm animals are now raised (at least in part) on manufactured feed not grass. Put simply raising livestock is a grotesque waste of natural resources and totally unnescasary, quite apart from the huge emissions of greenhouse gases (e.g. methane, which is 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide) produced by livestock farming.
    How many people who are outraged by the current proposals for a badger cull are prepared to do the one thing that will garuntee we will never face this situation again and give up eating animal products (especially beef and dairy products)? By all means protest/sign petitions but are you prepared to make changes to your life to ensure this never happens again and at the same time benifit a whole host of other wildlife?
    Put simply, raising cattle is totally unnescasary and without them there would be no need to cull badgers.
    p.s. In case anyone is wondering I have been vegetarian for 7 years and recently (3 months ago) became a vegan.

  • Comment number 22.

    Given the claimed economic cost of Bovine TB it should be economical to find a scientific solution in the form of improved and easier to administer vaccines (for both badgers and cattle).
    There also should be a complete ban on large scale factory farming of cattle as long as Bovine TB remains a problem, regardless of whether or not a ban on this type of farming is considered appropriate for other reasons.
    Bovine TB can affect any warm-blooded animal, including humans, dogs and cats but is only thought to be self substaining (as a disease) in cattle, badgers and possibly deer.
    There also needs to be more work done on the potential role of cats (and dogs) as carriers, while the incidence appears to be very low, the disease is also very difficult to detect in domestic animals and given the number and wandering nature of domestic cats they would be effective carriers.
    If there is to be cull, simply licensing farmers to shoot badgers would actually make the problem worse. In order to erradicate the disease by a cull, it would need to be conducted in a similar way to the erradication of foot and mouth, though only infected cattle would need to be slaughtered with the rest of the herd put in quarantine but there would need to be a complete cull of badgers on and around the farm.
    There is absolutely no need to cull badgers where there is no incidence of BTV and if BTV was effectively erradicated then non infected badgers could be safely reintroduced at a later date without any significant risk. For example BTV is virtually unknown in Scotland despite a reasonable badger population, Almost every case in Scotland has been shown to originate in cattle imported from England.

  • Comment number 23.

    I feel that culling the badgers to combat TB is not going to benefit any one and it is not productive. I think the way to go is through vaccination of the cows. This should be partly funded by the government and the farmers. The farmers have had it bad over the last few decades they need help - culling will not help them in the long term. If the scientists have been researching the effects of culling and not culling then they must have researched a vaccine for bovine TB or be testing one. We need farmers and we also need badgers, the government needs to give more to the farmers and help our wildlife instead of stupid art buildings which are not necessary. Sorry i'm rambling.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hello Sally, I set it out so nicely so that you could easily follow the figures and it has been 'jumbles' when they transferred my comment :
    I will try again:

    The report was to Elin Jones it was the 2nd Annual report 2009/2010.

    the 1st column was species
    the 2nd column was Number of submissions to VLA for TB Examination
    The 3rd column was Number of infected animals diagnosed with M.Bovis (bTB) in 2009.

    Deer......52.....19, Pig......116.....23, Alpaca...120.....68,
    Llama......3......0, Sheep......9......5, Goat......14......0,
    Ferret.....1......0, Farmed Wild Boar.....2.....0,

    Source: Vetinary Laboratories Agency TB Culture Database.
    A follow-up study was undertaken in 2009/10 on samples from wild Deer on Private Estates, I do not have the results.

    I hope the dots help the layout this time.
    Yvonne Anthony

  • Comment number 25.

    It makes no sense to cull the badgers when its proved that it makes minimal difference to the TB situation in cattle, vaccination for the Badgers is the only way forward, least its the most humane and kindest thing to do

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't know exactly when the somewhat superficial segment on Bovine TB and badgers was filmed but since then the Defra Public Consultation on Bovine TB and Badger culling has closed its doors to submissions.

    I had thought that the role of the BBC was to inform in a timely fashion, not retrospectively. Ironically (but not I fear coincidentally) as soon as Defra had closed its doors the BBC broadcast two programmes in the "On Your Farm" series which are rather more informative than the Winterwatch special was.

    programme 1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s571

    programme 2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wnry5

    The first covers what happened AFTER the Bourne Report on the work that Kate Humble was discussing with Rosie Boycott and deals with the persistence of the 'perturbation effect' (or rather the lack of it). The second covers the issues of immunising cows against TB.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------


    As to the general gist of the earlier responses above, there's plenty more like them here:

    anti-cull letters - http://www.badgerprotectionleague.com/letters.php

    I'd categorise them as 'emotive outrage'. There's nothing particularly wrong with that: it *is* outrageous that we have inadvertently introduced a lethal pathogen into the population of a native species. However outrage is not enough. We have to do something about it.

    -------------------------------------------------------

    [TB in Badgers]

    TB is not good for badgers. Genetic studies suggest that cows got TB from people |(who have had it for millenia) and passed it on to badgers to whom it is too novel a pathogen for them to have evolved any measure of resistance. Timothy Roper's recent book "The Badger" discusses TB in badgers at length. Figures 52 & 53 in show what TB does to badgers. Badger cubs can be infected by their mothers long before they could ever be immunised.

    I don't think anyone can help but feel sorry for the badgers in all of this. No-one set out to bring TB to them and they certainly didn't ask for it.

    Howver we are all aware by now that we inadvertently introduced the scourge of TB into various badger populations around the country. It follows that we have a moral duty to badgers to remove this scourge so that badgers across the country can live lives free of this obnoxious pathogen and not endure slow lingering deaths. However our duty is to ALL badgers, not just those in infected populations. As far as I am aware there is no means of curing infected badgers. It's difficult enough to achieve with people who are at least compliant. At the moment we can only aim at containment i.e. stop it spreading and suppression of the pathogen within infected areas. Vaccination does nothing for infected animals and these will still have to be removed. Unfortunately there is no on-the-spot test for TB infection in badgers so we cannot limit removal to infected animals.

    Much has been made of the 'perturbation' effect whereby animals from one of the experimental cull areas moved into adjacent areas thereby increasing the rate of TB observed in cattle. However the movement of individual animals across a theoretical dotted line between two virtual 10 km squares is neither here nor there in the order of things. What causes TB to spread is the translocation of infected cattle to areas hitherto free of infection. This is why the Bourne Report put such emphasis on cattle movement control. Without this the spread of bTB will be inexorable and compensation payments will escalate exponentially.

    The Bourne Report was not the end of things. In the ensuing 5 years the experimental cull areas have been monitored and the 'perturbation effect' has diminished. If we choose to combat TB we are in for the long haul and we owe it to all badgers to do it. To achieve it we have to be prepared to accept the loss of some badgers. . We have done it before with foot-and-mouth. In the last outbreak several ancient bloodlines of sheep were destroyed.

    I suspect that the majority of people are resigned to this course of action - I have noticed that appeals based on 'emotive outrage' on BBC messageboards and other natural history bulletin boards such as http://www.WildaboutBritain.co.uk do not elicit the sorts of responses that their instigators had hoped for.

    -------------------------------------------

    [TB in people]

    I'm very pleased to see that someone above (Yvonne Anthony) has made the connection with TB in people which we should all remember is what we are really out to minimise. Historically TB has been an incurable plague on humanity which we have suffered for thousands of years. THe HPA report on TB in the UK (2010) is here:

    Health Protection Agency report http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Tuberculosis/

    This should be compulsory reading for anyone commenting on the badger cull debate, and added to the list of resources at the top of this blog along with the Wikipedia account of the BCG immunisation programme

    Wikipedia BCG vaccination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_Calmette-Gu%C3%A9rin

    TB is a folk memory to my generation (the last in my family to have received the BCG vaccination as a matter of routine) and likewise my parents' generation .It's not even that to people under 18 who have never had the BCG vaccination and so have no protection against any exposure to the TB pathogen. It was however all too familiar to many of my grandparents' generation and they would be turning in their graves at the short-sighted botch-up we are making of things.

    -------------------------------------------------

    My own position is broadly contained within the following Autumnwatch thread:

    Save our Badgers http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbnatureuk/NF18920385?thread=7899834


    For an example of how Bovine TB can affect other animals read Robert Sapolsky's "A Primate's Memoir" - which deals with bTB in baboons.

  • Comment number 27.

    I am totally opposed to the badger cull proposal and will never vote for any MP or political party that supports the cull. As 75% of the population are against the cull, we should realise that we have the power to make sure it does not happen. We vote MPs in and we can vote them out.

  • Comment number 28.

    Autumnwatch supports the reintroduction of Red Kites, Otters, Beavers, Sea Eagles etc.
    Yet on badgers, it takes a sitting on the fence position.
    One can't go killing native wildlife species for commercial considerations. A fundamental point that seems to get missed.
    It was just such eradication that made Red Kites, Otters, Beavers, Sea Eagles, Tuna, Whales, etc. etc. all but disappear.
    If there is a problem with animal husbandry , another solution must be found.
    Come on Autumnwatch - a bit more commitment - you are losing credibility.
    Saving the natural environment is not 'watch the pretty birdie ' ! You have a big audience - use it to effect.

  • Comment number 29.

    Again and again this abomination, culling, crops up. Badgers actually clean cattle fields, not infect them. They are the victims here, of overfarming. By the way, has anyone established any really proven connection between bovine TB and the human variety, or is this just, as usual, convenient conjecture?

  • Comment number 30.

    The scientific evidence is clear that there are better methods to protect farmers' livestock than culling badgers.Anyone with an impartial mind would say so.However farmers feel that they have their backs against the wall and are unlikely to want to listen to anything which seems other than the first "OBVIOUS" TRUTH WHICH seems self evidently to be true.We should not cull badgers as is proposed.We should attack the problem based on evidence and not our base instincts.This Conservative government will probably go ahead with the cull because they will want to placate the farmers.More votes in it that way.As usual the wild animals will pay the bill.It's always the same.When were animals ever put before people's interests.?No money in it in the long run-or votes.When a cull takes place and the results are unfavourable,what a load of chumps we'll be.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done BBC and Kate Humble in particular for facing up to the highly controversial proposed Badger Cull with a report on the factual scientific evidence that hopefully will formulate the basis of a decision against the cull (as promised pre -election!)
    Having written to our local MP Dr. Liam Fox the reply was less than encouraging.
    The opinions we voiced in the 'consultation' have been well voiced above,and we truly hope that the evidence of the past trials, plus the positive outcomes so far on vacination will ensure that the latter is the chosen path.
    We enjoyed the programme immensely, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 32.

    Up to 4 years ago we went to the Isle of Man for 14 years in August for the Manx GP and stayed on a farm. There are NO badgers or foxes on the IOM but they still have bovine TB in their cattle. How has it reached the Island?
    The answer over here is to vaccinate both cattle and badgers. Not easy, but necessary - or all become vegetarians!

  • Comment number 33.

    Whenever there are problems within the bovine world we hear the same words, cull cull and yet more culling.

    forgive me for thinking this - but haven't cows and Badgers lived alongside each other for many many years, if the TB had been around hundreds of years ago then wouldn't we all be eating some other animal by now as all the cows would have long since died.

    I passed a field the other day and it was filled with lots of healthy looking cows enjoying their daily greens.

    I say to Mr Government, and your elected bodies look away from Badgers and spend your money on better research to solve the problem, not only do you mess up peoples lives you cant leave animals alone neither.

    Remember - innocent until proven guilty....


  • Comment number 34.

    Bovine TB and human TB are different strains. There are very few cases in humans of the bovine type which are usually connected to people working with cattle (see DEFRA site for figures). Badgers can live for many years with bovine TB, eventually dying of something unrelated. Even in the worst areas there are a minority of infected badgers, most are healthy. There is a theory that get rid of the disease in cattle and it dies down in badgers over time.

    The farmers unions have done their very best to keep the culling of badgers at the top of their agenda and to poison the minds of farmers against the badger. There are union leaders and politicians who have promised to kill badgers and have dug themselves a hole if they do not deliver a cull.

    People who don't want this slaughter may be called emotional, but the unions have used every trick in the book to push for badger culling including stories of the heartbreak of families forced to slaughter cattle, which are made out to be entirely the badger's fault. If more time had been devoted to some of the more likely reasons for the increase in bovine TB, such as have already been mentioned, and more sensible precautions had been taken before now, the situation would not have become so dire. However, now that stricter measures are in force, the numbers are coming down.

    A badger cull will make little difference,it's a waste of money and resources. it is better to vaccinate the badgers and, eventually, to vaccinate the cows.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think that culling badgers because of the economic implications is a very bad idea. Concider the message this action would send out to countries worldwide. How can we tell a farmer in africa it is wrong to kill a cheetah because it is attacking his livestock, or an elephant that is trampling his crops, if we are seen to kill our indigenous wlidlife because it costs the taxpayer money. Yes there is a problem and a program of vacination in badgers would be expensive but surely it is worth it if we can hand on to future generations the survival of one of our most iconic creatures.

  • Comment number 36.

    I am TOTALLY AGAINST the culling of Badgers or the culling of any wildlife that is just trying to live on this planet. Why do humans feel they have the right to decide which animals can live with us and which must die? We need to control our own reproduction, reduce the number of human beings on this planet, then there will be no need for intensive farming methods. If a badger cull will make little difference, then it is surely better to vaccinate the badgers and vaccinate the cows. Also, the farmers should graze other animals, such as sheep, near to where the badgers live, instead of cattle. Until there is proof that badgers have anything to do with increasing the spread of bovine TB, this would be a workable solution. If the cattle are kept away from the badger habitat, then efforts can be concentrated on improving the health of the cattle. Does anyone know if there is any other way to protest about this before it's too late?

  • Comment number 37.

    As shown on Springwatch there is no real evidence that culling these beautiful animals has any real effect. If there is a vaccine why not spend the money on a massive programme of vaccinations, both badgers and cattle, why look at any other option, just get on with it. Surely this has got to be a more prgmaitic approach, and wont upset all animals lovers countrywide.

  • Comment number 38.

    Common sense please!

    The cull of badgers must be stopped, lets see how the use of vaccine works, after investing loads of money into research, we cant let this knee jerk rush it through cull go through, compensate the farmer for not being able to trade cattle while we give a vaccination program a chance to work.


    Also, the Court of Appeal earlier this year established the illegality of killing badgers for no substantial reduction in bTB.
    From DEFRA

    Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is an infectious disease of cattle. It is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer, goats, pigs, camelids (llamas and alpacas), dogs and cats, as well as many other mammals.

    Research

    A significant amount (over £8.7 million in 2009/2010) is spent on a wide-ranging bovine TB research programme with a portfolio comprising projects looking at vaccine development; licensing studies; new diagnostic tests and disease epidemiology to support vaccine use.

    Vaccination of either cattle or wildlife is considered a potential long-term policy option for reducing the risk of bTB in Great Britain. As such, a substantial part of the Defra research programme focuses on this.

    The injectable badger vaccine, BadgerBCG, was granted a Marketing Authorisation by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in March 2010 to be used for the active immunisation of badgers to reduce lesions of tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The safety and efficacy data required for licensing the vaccine were generated from the following studies:

    Badgers and bovine TB

    The Coalition has committed, as part of a package of measures, to developing affordable options for a carefully-managed and science-led policy of badger control in areas with high and persistent levels of bovine TB.

    Defra has been looking at all the key relevant evidence, including published scientific evidence from the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) and subsequent post-trial analyses, to draw up proposals, which have been published for public consultation.

    The government’s proposal is to issue licences to farmers/landowners who wish to cull and/or vaccinate badgers at their own expense. These licences would be subject to strict licence criteria to ensure badger control is done effectively, humanely and with high regard for animal welfare.

    We welcome your comments and responses to the consultation (our website also contains details of how to submit your response):

    Consultation documents
    As part of Defra’s commitment to tackling the issue of bovine TB, government has invested in a significant research programme looking into the development of vaccines for both cattle and badgers.

    More information on vaccination
    A Badger Vaccine Deployment Project (BVDP) is being funded by Defra to assess and maximise the viability of using injectable badger vaccine and to help us move towards the long-term goal of an oral badger vaccine. Badgers on up to 100km2 of land in Gloucestershire are being trapped and vaccinated over 5 years using the injectable badger vaccine licenced in March 2010. The deployment project aims to build confidence in the principle and practicalities of vaccination.

    Cattle Compensation

    Government compensation is paid to owners of cattle compulsorily slaughtered for bTB control purposes. Since February 2006 compensation in England has been determined primarily using table values, which reflect the average sales price of bovine animals in 47 different categories. The categories are based on the animal’s age, gender, type (dairy or beef) and status (pedigree or non-pedigree).

  • Comment number 39.

    Having been closed down with TB again.I was interested to here the view of a local vet whom did our last test His comment was why do we not live with TB as it will be virtually impossible to eradicate it.The test we use today dates back to 1960 when green milk (unpasturised milk) was for sale and animal hygene was not as high as it is now and average herds were 20-30 animals and not 150+ as today.We should test yearly and all all reactors culled, as milk is now passturised and all milk is inspected before sale, spread to humans is very small as all meat is cooked.The test is to indicate if the anomal has been incontact with TB SPORES AND NOT IF IT HAS OR NOT TB.The first visible signs are often found at the abbatior in the lymph glangs.It will spread slowly to the lungs and udder.But by this time the animal would be too sick to milk or fatten for beef.To save millons of pounds inculling of badgers and good stock why do we not live with the problem and stop pre movement testing and 60 day testing.If Badgers get badly infected they will naturally pushout the infected members to die.So if we remove clean setts they will soon be repopulated with clean or dirty setts.We can live with clean badgers as they keep out the infected setts.

  • Comment number 40.

    Firstly I would like to say that I spent most of my childhood and half my adult life working and living on farms, woods, and with the last to the jobs and lively hood connected to it, and as such I have witnessed changes some good most bad for the wildlife and enviroment but I must say that I have seen one thing that makes my so mad it is beyond belief, that is to say a study was done on one farm in on the North Downs in Kent and before bovine animals were introduced the badger population had no cases of TB, but after six months of the bovine being in the connecting fields all of the badgers that were caught had contracted TB. So try telling me again who gives who TB.

  • Comment number 41.

    Lack of selenium and iodine (chiefly) is a huge factor in Bovine TB and badger TB.

    Let's have a trial of re-mineralising land, not a trial of culling, which has been seen to be ineffective. Or perhaps it would be if we wiped out every last badger? I don't think we want that, and just think how we'd all feel if cows still came down with TB when our striped friends were poisoned, shot and gassed. This is a actually the case as someone has pointed out on the Isle of Man (not that badgers have been exterminated there, but there aren't any) - and also in a completely badger-free area in the south-west, where a farmer has lost 50 cows in the last few years to TB, his herd being only 80 cows.

    If you are interested in this, Danny Goodwin Jones of Trace Element Solutions will tell you a lot more, and have a look also at Dr Helen Fielding's (Fullerton??) memo to the Houses of Parliament.

  • Comment number 42.

    In reply to 'TB in People' above:

    I believe you have misunderstood what is written in my comment: When I said "Remember, humans caused the increase in bTB after Foot-and-Mouth, don't make the badgers pay for our mistakes." I was referring to the fact that the government and its agencies decided to stop bTB testing during the Foot-and-mouth period, as the risk of infection was possibly increased by vets and their assistants travelling from farm to farm. Great, you say !! yes, but the ministries then forgot to re-instate the pre-movement TB testing, when Foot-and-Mouth cleared.
    They allowed cattle from all over the country to move from farm to farm, re-stocking farms that had been previously bTB clear, with bTB infected animals, not long after, bTB has risen by approx. 20% in England and Wales and it was too late to do anything about it. You can't blame the cattle or the badgers for that one catastrophic action by DEFRA & co., it was humans who made the blunder of all time and created the situation we are in today.
    Another point that has been voiced is: Can anything be done to stop the cull, particularly in view of the points I bought out in my previous comment, here and in other publications,
    I am typing this through NEW YEAR, it is now 12:08 am 1/1/11, and my New Years Wish is as follows:
    So many blunders have been made by both the English and Welsh governments and so much misinformation has been sent out officially, The Badger Trust, Secret World and many others, including the celebrities have moved heaven and earth attempting to defend the badgers: Is there one , yes, ONE, really clever, nature loving, sympathetic, barrister, who is willing to examine the whole situation, free of charge,and advise the population of the UK, (remember you will be representing at least 75% of us), how we can immediately stop this government, DEFRA and anyone else from carrying out a cull. I am sure there must be a way, just tell us what to do, can we throw out the government, forcing an election, close DEFRA as incompetent and think how you will go down in history.
    I am seriously asking the best of the uk legal eagles, to start our 2011 with hope. Please help us and the badgers of England and Wales, All you have to do is find a way, then comment on this site.
    Yvonne Anthony

  • Comment number 43.

    The plan to shoot badgers at night and dusk is completely cruel and inhumane. This has not been tried before, and they will be difficult targets, many dying lingering deaths from wounds in their setts. There is also a potential danger to the public. In Wales, there will be compulsory participation, a draconian imposition against human rights, except in a national emergency.

    Elin Jones, the Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs, Christianne Glossop Chief Vet for Wales, Jim Paice DEFRA, Brian Walters of the FUW, Peter Kendall of the NFU, MPs in the West Country and the vets who do the testing are the people whose careers will benefit from badger culling. It is almost impossible for them to backtrack from their positions as they are such vocal supporters.

    Devolved agriculture and a partisan system where Assembly members support each other, and the farmers' unions have extraordinary power, even the Welsh judiciary are more likely to support Assembly decisions. The consultation process has finished for England and Wales, but will any notice be taken of the opinions expressed? I suspect that in Wales even if a majority are against badger killing, the answer will be NO. The consultation responses, whatever they are, will be skewed to support Elin Jones's policy.


    Three smart judges in the Judicial Review demolished the Assembly plans, but is there enough money left by the charities for another Review - now a fight on two fronts and by two governments. The literature put out by the Welsh Assembly is full of errors, and the consultation questionnaire was heavily biased in favour of positive answers for their policy. In 2011, quite possibly again, the only hope for intelligence is from the legal profession.







  • Comment number 44.

    This stupid and just plain wrong approach has been tried before in the 1960's and 70's. It didn't work then and it won't work now. It will just force 'attacked' groups to scatter into other area's. That is aside from the fact that the disease spread is a direct result of 'modern' Idustrialized farming technics, which are constantly striving for the lowest price 'whatever the cost' to the environment. This (the Badger) is the largest natural Wild Mammal we have in the UK and It has Laws to Protect it.Those laws were introduced for a very good reason,any wild creature which even 'hints' at being a problem to Farmers or Gamekeepers is mercelessly persecuted hence the near extinction of some types of Birds of prey in the past. We MUST oppose this 'wrongheaded and finance driven driven' decision with all of our powers available.

  • Comment number 45.

    Why is there a need to cull the badgers?
    In the proposed cull area in Wales there has been a 47.6% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme so far in 2010, without any badgers being culled! DEFRA's own figures, see below.

    DEFRA have published statistics for incidence of bovine TB in Wales up to the end of September 2010. These continue to show the incidence is declining overall in Wales. Based on a monthly average of the number of cattle slaughtered to date - an estimated projection for the total number of cattle slaughtered by the end of 2010 shows a drop of approximately 29% on 2009.

    But most importantly, the drop is even more pronounced in Dyfed - the area that contains the Intensive Action Area. Here's how the 2010 figures compare with the same period in 2009.
    1Jan to Sept 30 2009 number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme = 5,731
    the same period in 2010. = 3,000


    This represents a 47.6% reduction so far in 2010! This is so close to a 50% reduction - we must get this good news out to the public.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am definitely against the cull. I think it is unnecessary and I find it incredible that with all our modern medicine expertise that they cannot produce a cheap and effective way of inoculating the Badgers.

    However having watched the last Country File program it would seem that the cull may not now take place because of ……..yup, cost.

    After all the money spent on research etc someone one has actually thought about the logistics and realised it would cost more than compensating the farmers although I do appreciate the hardship bovine TB must cause those who work hard to raise their cattle only to see them slaughtered unnecessarily.

  • Comment number 47.

    I am so glad that the Springwatch team raised the issue of the proposed badger cull, although I wish it had been sooner i.e. before the closing date for the Defra Consultation. I hope that the programme will raise awareness amongst the general public, whom I'm sure, would overwhelmlingy agree that a proposed badger cull is nothing short of being completely and utterly barbaric and senseless.
    I am lucky enough to have badgers visit my garden every night. They are a delight to watch and I feel priviledged to be able to be able to view what I consider to be part of our British heritage which is centuries old.
    Badgers have already suffered enough at the hands of badger baiters, snares and road traffic accidents. I really hope that the Government sees sense on this issue.

  • Comment number 48.

    Culling is definately not the answer. How many more badgers will be killed before it is accepted that they are not the main vectors. I was shocked to discover recently how many badgers have already been slaughtered in trials already conducted (and no doubt there are illegal killings going on). How many times does science have to prove that slaughtering badgers is not the answer to controlling Bovine TB.

    What about the spreading of slurry. I remember reading the following info a number of years ago:
    "Published research indicates that cattle manure, and especially liquid slurry from infected herds, can represent a potential source of bovine tuberculosis (Maddock, 1936; West, 1988; Hahesy et al, 1992). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that cattle can become infected with TB after grazing pasture recently experimentally contaminated with M.bovis (Maddock, 1934; Schellner, 1956). In addition, recent studies in Ireland have demonstrated that the spreading of slurry onto pasture grazed by cattle significantly increases the risk of infection with TB (Christiansen et al, 1992; Griffin et al, 1993)."

    There is also the information about mineral deficiencies. Why isn't this being implemented.

    "Evidence suggests that trace element deficiencies induce a susceptibility to M.bovis, which can be corrected by restoring the nutrients to depleted soils, particularly in the hot spot areas that occur on soil types intrinsically deficient. Furthermore, inadequate trace element intakes are a risk factor for false negatives—cattle that do not respond to the TB skin test because their circulating lymphocytes are suppressed, a condition known as anergy. These are silent carriers, healthy in themselves, but whose undetectable infectivity could explain the persistence of the hot spots. Suppressive factors include zinc, selenium and cobalt deficiency. Adequate trace element intakes would lift the suppression and allow the silent carrier to be identified by the skin test."

    The only answer to control BTB is to improve the methods of detecting TB in cattle, including better pre-movement testing, better farm husbandry and bio-security. Vaccination of cattle should also be allowed.

  • Comment number 49.


    The Isle of Man has no badgers, but the cows still get TB.
    Therefore, the loss of badgers does not remove TB.
    So where is the gain in culling badgers ?

  • Comment number 50.

    Thank goodness the BBC has at last tackled this issue objectively by interviewing a top (independent) scientist, Rosie Woodroffe. Springwatch and Autumnwatch are great programmes, but up until now both have ducked the TB issue. Countryfile, unfortunately, has consistently distorted the real issues by concentrating on badgers to the virtual exclusion of the much more important root cause of bTB--catttle to cattle transmission. Almost 10 years of research and an investment of almost £50 million of our (taxpayers') money tells us quite clearly that slaughtering badgers can make no meaningful difference to bTB. Perturbation--a characteristic of badgers--means that unlike deer culling, for example, the behaviour of the remaining animals changes markedly. The stable social family group is destroyed, the remaining badgers range more widely and move into new areas and probably as a result of stress animals which were previously infected but not necessarily infectious are more likely --not less likely--to shed some infection. Badger culling won't work, it costs more than it saves, creates infection where there was little or none before, and is a waste of resources. Farming unions must bear the blame for farmers being hoodwinked into thinking badgers are the underlying problem. They blame badgers for new outbreaks, when in fact these are almost inevitable--as the skin test is only 80 per cent effective. In a 200-strong herd the skin test might theoretically miss up to 40 infected cattle. Once testing is over these remain in the herd as undiscovered TB carriers and as cattle spend months on end jammed together, transmission of TB is inevitable.In proposing culls both governments are ignoring top-class independent scientific advice. Sloppy cattle managmement is the underlying cause of bTB. It is a highly infectious disease and has to be treated as such. Once cattle have been given a clean bill of health by rigorous testing those clean cattle must not be allowed to come into contact with cattle which have not passed the same stringent tests.History--in the shape of the successful 1960s 1970s bTB eradication programme-- tells us that, a point which the ISG has hammered home but which the government and the farming unions chose to ignore.Jim Paice promised a science led cull. He has served up a hotch potch which spells high costs and more TB for participating farmers--and their near neighbours--and a futile inhumane slaughter of thousands of healthy uninfected badgers.

  • Comment number 51.

    All the real experts on this subject have informed the deaf and blind government that a badger cull will do nothing to stop the spread of boving TB but, as always, they are not interested in hearing the truth. What a shame we keep getting apathetic and biased government officials. Leave the badgers alone and vaccinate the cattle. Badgers are meant to be a protected species. What happened to that policy ?

  • Comment number 52.

    Culling of wildlife should only be used where scientifically-based research strongly indicates that it would have a long-term effective outcome in controlling disease in farm animals. All the current evidence suggests that culling of badgers will not produce effective results in the control of bovine TB disease in farm animals. Vaccination is the long-term, sustainable solution to reducing the prevalence of TB in badgers (and hence reducing disease transmission to cattle). An injectable vaccination programme would be a much better approach to TB control than culling (until 2015, when an oral vaccine should be available). In addition, significant reductions of bovine TB could be achieved by better cattle controls, improved on-farm biosecurity and by regulating trading between farms on the basis of their TB status. The main benefit that appears to be behind TB control via badger culling is to appease (some) cattle farmers. When this is weighed against the harm caused to the local badger population, ecology and biodiversity, together with the fact that culling will NOT actually reduce bovine TB in the long term, it is clear that culling would be an extremely detrimental measure to adopt. Greater priorities should be given to: seeking the legal changes required to allow vaccination of cattle; and imposing rigorous cattle measures, such as introducing a system similar to the Accredited Herd Scheme, risk-assessing herds and controlling their trade accordingly.

  • Comment number 53.


    45. At 1:39pm on 02 Jan 2011, I wrote:
    Why is there a need to cull the badgers?
    In the proposed cull area in Wales there has been a 47.6% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme so far in 2010, without any badgers being culled! DEFRA's own figures, see below.

    DEFRA have published statistics for incidence of bovine TB in Wales up to the end of September 2010. These continue to show the incidence is declining overall in Wales. Based on a monthly average of the number of cattle slaughtered to date - an estimated projection for the total number of cattle slaughtered by the end of 2010 shows a drop of approximately 29% on 2009.

    But most importantly, the drop is even more pronounced in Dyfed - the area that contains the Intensive Action Area. Here's how the 2010 figures compare with the same period in 2009.
    1Jan to Sept 30 2009 number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme = 5,731
    the same period in 2010. = 3,000

    This represents a 47.6% reduction so far in 2010! This is so close to a 50% reduction - we must get this good news out to the public.


    The figures for Dyfed, which contains the Intensive Action Area, should have been:

    1 Jan to Sept 30 2009 number of cattle slaughtered in connection with the TB eradication programme = 5,731
    the same period in 2010 = 3,732

    This represents a 34.8% reduction so far for 2010.

    Apologies for the wrong figure but it is still a remarkable reduction with NO BADGERS KILLED

  • Comment number 54.

    Reading the other comments here reminds me somewhat of the hospital sketch in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life": there is something missing: the patient. Despite all the diversionary efforts on here I see no real sign of the badgers' interests being considered. The fundamental moral issue is being ducked over and over again.

    The badgers are our 'patients'. We have inadvertently visited the pestilence of tuberculosis on these innocent animals and we have a moral duty to sort it out. I do wonder how senior members of the various badger support groups can sleep at night while promoting a course of action (or rather inaction) that condemns the supposed objects of their concern and all future generations of the same to a future blighted by this degrading and debilitating disease.

    It is *40 years ago this year* since the first association waS made between bovine TB and badgers. Forty years! In that time it has gone from being a little local difficulty to a nationwide scandal. I would like to see a healthy badger population. That is to say I would like to see a healthy population of healthy badgers. At this rate it won't happen in my lifetime.

    It is a basic principle of stockmanship that to preserve the health of the herd that you remove the sick, and in the case of infectious diseases those who have associated with them. Yet for some reason this can't be applied to the badger largely (as far as I can see) because of an over-protective attitude towards them by various animal welfare lobbies riding on the back of the legislation against evil badger-baiters. We routinely kill sick animals yet it seems for some reason that the badger is exempt from this.

    There was a golden opportunity to sort this all out in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Instead the prevarications of the various animal welfare pressure groups caused successive governments to vacillate, procrastinate and defer the action that would have resolved the problem in the South West by the end of the 1980s, in the vague hope - still expressed above - that the problem would just go away. That approach in itself did not cause the major expansion of TB in badgers across England but it certainly left the door wide open for it to happen. Sadly the TB pathogen is not noted for 'just going away'.

    THere are efforts afoot to suppress it but these are being frustrated by those who hide behind the ISG/Bourne Report's penultimate conclusion that badger culling alone would do nothing to stop the spread of bTB in the national herd. That's paragraph 10:92. Instead they all root for vaccination of badgers as the answer which is a little odd as they can't have read paragraph 10.90 which is on the same page as 10.92. 10.90 says that vaccination of badgers won't work in the short term. For some curious reason 10.92 appears in all the anti-cull literature but 10.90 never does. Meanwhile the level of TB in the badger population rises inexorably.

    Go take a look. Sadly I see that the ISG/Bourne Report is another pertinent document missing from the BBC's list. You can find a link to it here. http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/isg/index.htm .

    The so-called 'Badger Protection Groups' methods all too frequently ape those of the tabloid press. Abuse of statistics, appeal to sentiment over reason etc. One thing that particular aggrieves me is the repeated use of photographs of cute baby badgers on their promotional literature on the TB issue. (Indeed if you look at the current Springwatch home page the BBC does the same.) I would rather they used photographs of sick or dead badgers as this would better reflect the grim reality of TB in badgers which is what all this is about.

    If things are left as they are many more of those cute baby badgers will be at risk of getting their first taste of the TB pathogen before they have even left their birth chamber. Cute baby animals are used to sell toilet paper to humans and in this regard the baby badgers are no different: much of the promotional literature of the badger support groups could be put to similar use.

    It is not the place of badger support groups (especially not those with charitable status) to systematically mislead the public at large. Charitable status is a privilege accorded to organisations that are deemed to be operating above board and in the public interest. Looking at the delays and costs and charges that various UK governments have been put by these organisations over the past three decades I would seriously question whether these orgainsations have lived up to either of these criteria on this topic.

    The dogmatic reactionary and over-protective policies of some of these badger support groups over the past three decades resemble the militant trade unionists of the 1960s and 1970s I've been reading about, so busy standing up for the short-term rights of their membership that most of those members ended up with no job at all. Don't let that happen to the badgers. It's their long-term health which is at stake. I'm sure that for the well-meaning members of badger support groups this is an incredibly hard thing to hear but it needs to be said. You do not necessarily hold the moral high ground.

    If you are a member of one of these groups and your subscription is being paid to perpetuate the scourge of TB in the native badger population then I put it to you that your money (including the tax relief) could be better spent elsewhere. There's a definition of a stockbroker that says 'a stockbroker is a man who invests your money until it's all gone'. Are badger support groups going to 'protect' healthy badgers until there arem't any left?

    Lastly I commend the BBC's "On Your Farm" programmes of 19th December & 26th December to you. Well worth a listen. THey're only 20 minutes each.
    Bourne 10.92 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00wnry5/On_Your_Farm_19_12_2010
    Vaccination http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00wqkth/On_Your_Farm_26_12_2010

  • Comment number 55.

    it has not been prooved ju

  • Comment number 56.

    Shame the programe went out after the closure date for the consultation. It has been a major "wildlife story" for so many years, with very little mention on this most popular wildlife show. There is obviously much confusion about the facts re badgers and bovine tb and the programme gave a balanced view of the the history and research which has been carried out. If this had happened sooner, more of the general public would have been involved in commenting on the proposals for controlling the disease.Why wait till its too late?

  • Comment number 57.

    Ellin Jones The Rural Affairs Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government must be made to realise a badger cull is an ill thought out solution to stopping bTB in cattle, as it is a failed concept; she has given little or no thought to the far reaching consequences it would leave. Farmers and their unions will also turn and not thank her when they realise a great deal of time and money has been wasted when a few years down the line their cattle still suffer the same from bTB.

    Taxpayers ask what is the point of spending millions of pounds on huge policing costs to monitor culls (that could never be carried out with 100% success) plus the Court Costs trying to get a cull past in law? When only a couple of years away there will be an oral vaccine for badgers available at minimum cost to administer - there will also be a Cattle vaccine available in 2012 – end of problem. Our money that would have been wasted can be put to better use in our hospitals and schools etc.

    For years now scientific advice has been given how to stop the spread of bTB. The worst transmission is during transportation of cattle. This can be stopped be strict controls being implemented, by testing cattle before movement, allowing only those free of TB to travel, therefore, stopping the largest spread of the disease. Secondly, introduce Bio security on farms; this stops the spread of other types of disease as well as bTB. It is scandalous to learn WAG holds no information of how many, if any, farmers have implemented this. Yet Glossop claims “it is an important aspect of a comprehensive approach”. Yet nothing is being recorded, let alone enforced. A shocking admission, and only confirms these measures are voluntary, subjective, and not being taken seriously. This approach to sloppy farming practices contrasts sharply with the fanaticism to kill badgers, whatever the cost (apparently they are literally giving the police a blank cheque for whatever they would need to enforce a cull). Welsh tax payers are likely to rebel in these times of national austerity at this utter waste of their money.

    Is it fair that while farmers are allowed the ‘take it or leave it’ approach, that we the taxpayer are being forced to pay the costs of killing our wildlife, when there are cheaper and cruelty-free methods available.

    WAG is being accused of wilful incompetence and ignoring non-lethal measures to appease those farmers who only wish to spill the blood our badgers and forgetting those farmers and the rest of us who do not agree with this killing.

    Is it right that thousands of our badgers will be shot in parts of Wales, despite the fact that a non-lethal part of the puzzle has been staring politicians in the face all along? Killing wildlife, particularly a protected species such as our badgers, should be the LAST RESORT (if absolutely necessary) and if all other avenues have failed. Not now when the recommended scientific advice is being ignored. It should, and hopefully WILL be, made ILLEGAL by our Law Courts. Where would it end if the laws protecting wildlife started to be eroded in this way?

  • Comment number 58.

    A new report, commissioned by Defra and produced by imperial College and Zoological Society of London casts doubt on the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing the incidence of bovine TB in the UK. The report examines the aftermath of the Krebbs trials. It shows that any beneficial effects at the time of the trials were not sustained, as they disappeared within four yrs. after the cull. The report also shows that savings to Government and farmers, through reduced bTB incidence in cattle, are two to three times lower than the cost of culling badgers.

    We are told by WAG the culls would have to go on for 5 yrs. Followed on by a further 5 yrs. The financial costs would be unsustainable, and still leave us with the same problem.

    This report clearly shows that stricter control of cattle using transport regulations and Bio security on farms is the better and cheaper way to go, quickly bringing down the numbers of cattle with TB. Vaccinating badgers in the ‘hot spots’ will also lead to the virtual eradication of bTB by bringing it under our control, whereas killing badgers never will.

    VIVA is a good site for more information
    http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/badgers/index3.php

  • Comment number 59.

    I may not be as knowlegable as lots of the other people are but I just wanted to add my voice. Why oh why do we have to kill these beautiful creatures? From what I have read and seen on the TV it seems that it will not help matters anyway by killing badgers and can actually spread TB further.

  • Comment number 60.

    It always seems to me that for every one of us that loves to enjoy our wildlife and see it thrive there is another person just as willing to see it destroyed. Are we really as backward as this proposal suggests, there are other ways!

  • Comment number 61.

    In confirmation of some of the things I said earlier about wilful misrepresentation by badger support groups see the report an Advertising Standards Agency investigation into the "Save the Badger" campaign:
    http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2010/12/Save-the-Badger/TF_ADJ_49535.aspx
    summarised here: http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2011/01/04/124917/Campaigners-accused-of-misleading-public-over-badger.htm

  • Comment number 62.

    If you can vaccinate the badgers then why not the cattle. Why does everything have to end up slaughtered. Surly having cattle vaccinated is the answer. We have our dogs and cats vaccinated annually why can't farmers have their livestock done.???

  • Comment number 63.

  • Comment number 64.

    leave the poor badgers alone. and vacanate the cows ect.

 

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