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Badgers and TB: Have your say

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:54 UK time, Friday, 28 October 2011

In tonight's Autumnwatch we look at the latest news in the badger/TB story. You can see our film below. We'd like to hear what you think about the issue, so please post a comment below and let is know.

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Autumnwatch, 8.30pm Friday 28 October, BBC Two.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Badgers are a real part of our life where we live. Four visit our garden every evening and people even come to visit just so that they can get to within inches of real live badgers. They all have their own different personalities and we even have our very own Fancy Claws! (See http://www.flickr.com/photos/blacksplat/6289316096/in/photostream )

    I can understand the need to reduce the impact of Bovine TB but the thought of losing our own badger experience is really sad.

  • Comment number 2.

    The badger cull has no scientific basis,will be ineffective and appears to be a short term political reaction.Surely this problem needs long term serious investment in a vaccine for cattle,the cost of compensation to farmers last year £90m! this figure would be a good start, for vaccine trials NOT to be cancelled!

  • Comment number 3.

    I think also the farmers themselves are contibuting to the problem.

    Why well there are certain areas where badgers and cattle live in harmony with NO TB in amongst the cattle or badgers, so how is the problem arising in other areas I don't know.

  • Comment number 4.

    Also another thought, we all know that people can carry diseases and show no signs of it, so do the Farmers themselves get tested to see if they are giving the cattle TB themselves.

    But the cattle can be giving TB to the badger, because we all know that badgers loves worms and things which live under the Cow platts, so turning them over the badgers could be catching the TB from the cow that deposited it.

  • Comment number 5.

    Science not slaughter!

    Most of the evidence points to vaccination being the most reliable and effective means of curbing bovine TB, whereas culling has often exacerbated the problem in trials.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't think culling badgers is the solution unless the government is planning on wiping out the entire badger population, vaccination is a good idea but also would be difficult to administer to all affected badgers. The answer has got to be in vaccinating cattle & practising better animal health care. Farm animals can be treated & controlled in a contained area whereas wild creatures can't & why should such a beautiful animal be killed for want of a better method.

  • Comment number 7.

    Every creature is entitled to live on this planet so no creature should be culled. We are supposed to be the most inteligent creatures on this planet so surley they could come up with ways to live in harmony with wildlife and not destroy it.

  • Comment number 8.

    i think the cull would sort the problem of tb out most farmers would agree, people think badgers are cute what they don't uderstand is they don't just eat worms they rip nests out of low trees, some have even been caught in chicken coops...they need controlling the numbers of badgers will rise and there will be no song birds left in the countryside. what with them magpies,crows and pesticides no wonder our birds are in decline, i do my best the birds are fed in the winter, i like to see badgers as i do all wildlife and birds..i think there too protected thats the thing!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Why can't we just vaccinate the cows against TB?

  • Comment number 10.

    What can we say- It's the circle of life

  • Comment number 11.

    Just to put Martin right....'Up Up and Away' isn't a Baccarach tune, it's by Jimmy Webb...sung by Fifth Dimension.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Thirty-seven per cent fewer cattle with bovine TB have had to be slaughtered in the first seven months of this year compared with the first seven months of 2009 in the county where the killing of badgers has been proposed.

  • Comment number 13.

    there has never been any proof that badgers have T.B & how do we know that cows have that virus & pass this on, to badgers or from another source .

  • Comment number 14.

    Why is it never mentioned that countries such as Germany, who have both cattle and badgers have NO bovine tb?! Isnt that plus the inconclusive studies enough to stop humans making more mistakes?

  • Comment number 15.

    The concentration of badgers in any area is detrimental to bumble bees, hedgehogs and ground nesting birds but this is never mentioned.

  • Comment number 16.

    Badgers should not be culled. There are many many other avenues to look into before blaiming the beautiful badger. It wont end with Badgers tho, once they've killed them off they'll just persecute another creature and a "reason" to kill it off.

  • Comment number 17.

    But you didn't explain exactly what bovine TB is and why, or if, it is dangerous to to humans.

  • Comment number 18.

    why not make badgers pest status so in areas where they are a problem can shot and not whole sale slaughter

  • Comment number 19.

    The science seems to say it will only reduce TB in cattle by a few percent in the area where it is done .Previous evidence showed spread away from area. a lot more of everyone's money will be spent on farmers wishes. The current government were always going to give in to there farming supporters. it will be a pointless waste of time and money and destroy badger communities with no real improvement to the problem

  • Comment number 20.

    On an objective basis it is clear that the impact of the cull on bovine TB is insignificant (over all at 19% drop) for a sustained and intensive cull.

    On balance a cull cannot be justified - why should badgers, the wider ecosytem and badger lovers suffer to appease the farmer lobby?

  • Comment number 21.

    All this on badgers for a reduction of 16%, should we not consider the other 84% which is obviously cattle linked? Use vaccination on badgers as they only live a few years in the wild to minimise the risk of them passing tb back to cattle & tighten up on cattle controls.

  • Comment number 22.

    There is never one answer to a problem like bovine TB and killing badgers is, I believe, unlikely to be 'The Answer'. Maybe someone needs to take a look at the cattle testing programme and the cattle movement restrictions.

  • Comment number 23.

    How can it be right to kill so many animals when there is no real proof that it will make a difference or that badgers are the cause of the spread of TB? We should value our wildlife and usually when man gets involved he only makes things worse if you remember the way that we tried to control rabbits and caused disease. In the end killing them all would not be right when you can vaccinate hopefully to avoid the need. Live and let live is my opinion and find a better way.

  • Comment number 24.

    I do agree with Chrissie on this. The cull on badgers has not been proven and it is a political knee jerk reation to keep the farmers happy. Badgers are not the only animal that carry the virus. Deer also carry it and roam much further than badgers. If the cull goes ahead then Bovine TB could be spread further as the setts are disturbed.

  • Comment number 25.

    Interesting report. Seems to me that you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the badgers. Any cull would need overwhelming evidence that it would have a really significant impact on bovine TB, but in any event it should be a last resort. Spend the time and money on an effective vaccine/treatment for cattle.

  • Comment number 26.

    TB in cattle in Northern Ireland has fallen by 50% without a badger cull. TB in the Irish Republic's national herd has increased despite culling thousands of badgers each year. And what can we learn from this?

  • Comment number 27.

    The farmers are to blame for bovine TB due to their intensive factory farming methods and poor animal husbandry. Badgers should not be culled. The government and the farming community should stop blaming badgers for their own mistakes! The answer is for everyone to adopt a vegan diet and stop factory farming animals which is cruel and inhumane.

  • Comment number 28.

    What use are badgers? They destroy embankments and dig up gardens and lawns, they kill hedgehogs, which are the gardeners friends and they are inedible. They have no natural enemies and they are very boring: I can't understand why the BBC Wildlife is obsessed with them.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why have the government spent money and time on developing a vaccine for badgers and not made cattle the priority? Vaccinating badgers requires capturing large enough numbers of them to gain herd immunity in order to make the vaccine effective which is both costly and ineffecient. This means the governement is paying for both the vaccine for each badger and the process of capturing them. The money spent on this process could go into subsidising a vaccine for cattle so that it is cheaper for farmers and easy to do and therefore more effective in the battle against TB.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have just asked the team a question - instead of culling badgers in areas here there and everywhere and getting tb here there and everywhere,afterwards, why dont they cull say say from Exeter down to St ives to get a more realistic outcome/result - which would give more of a truthful answer and then go from there. I am on the fence with this, but surely we need to know the exact facts before we make any decision.

  • Comment number 31.

    In reply to nickgrush....if badgers were given a pest status then farmers would have a field day doing thier own culling on thier own land, so no thats not the answer!

  • Comment number 32.

    How many badger roadkill are actually killed by farmers and tossed into the road, so often you see not one but 2 or 3 carcasses close together.

    Badgers are definitely not cute and cuddly creatures and but our farms are not blameless when it comes to incubating diseases and spreading it like wildfire.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am totally against culling badgers, they are beautiful creatures.

  • Comment number 34.

    "beautiful badgers" thats what they are to look at on tv.....have you smelt one? they stink and rake havock in our country side....

  • Comment number 35.

    There are no badgers living on the Isle of Man and I understand that cattle on the Isle of Man get/have TB. Stop blaming the Badgers.

  • Comment number 36.

    TB is a disease of overcrowding. When we stopped living in damp, overcrowded conditions, improved our sanitation & ate more nutritious food, we stopped getting TB. Studies have shown that organic cattle have far fewer cases of TB. Stop giving cattle antibiotics routinely, feed them grass, not grains, stop overcrowding them & the TB will cease to be rife. More drugs are not the answer. It is completely unethical to start intefering with wild animals, giving them vaccines that are unnecessary for them (with no studies into the long term side effects these may cause) or slaughtering them simply so we can continue to overeat cheap, poorly reared meat.

  • Comment number 37.

    I love badgers however have a set in my garden and they have made my garden a no go area, also the set is built underneath out buildings I have to house my own owls, having spoken to relevant authorities about moving the badgers elsewhere I have been informed that it will cost £10,000 to move them as they need to be "rehomed" its completely ridiculous I have no rights whatsoever!!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Badgers are and have been for generations a vital part of our native wildlife, culling is cruel, ineffective and i think a gross misuse of taxpayers money. I would much prefer my money (as a taxpayer) to be used for vacination program, which has to be more effective and humane.

  • Comment number 39.

    When lots of Badgers frequent a garden as they do in mine, is it possible that
    TB is transferred to Humans perhaps by their saliva on fallen apples or on
    soil? I love to see Badgers scuttling about at night.

  • Comment number 40.

    We too get many badgers visiting our garden and yes, we encourage them with food and water - they give us and our friends hours of pleasure. Has anyone actually done a widespread of testing on the badgers themselves for BovineTB? They test the cows - which is relatively easy because they are accessible - is it cost related that they cant do widespread testing of badgers??? Is it a case that they only tell us what they want us to know?? Lets hope more knowledge and testing of these magnificent creatures can protect both the cows and the badgers for future generations to enjoy - it would be so sad to see badgers being systematically wiped out without first getting proper proof that they are indeed the carriers!

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't believe that any native animal should be culled to aid farming. However, while Humans continue to eat beef and use bovine bi-products in the quantities that we do, the only option is to cull or vaccinate. That's unless we all decide to stop eating cows! People complain that the Badger's are suffering, but on the other hand we continue to eat beef and rely on farmers to produce the amount needed to keep our needs met.

  • Comment number 42.

    There are many unclear answers surrounding bovine tb. Some of the most pressing include; when an animal becomes infected with m.bovis, what percentage of animals progress from latent infection to active disease? If a vacine is developed, would it prevent a proper diagnosis of animals after innoculation - and is this the real reason why there is a reluctance to develop a vacine? Why when m.bovis can remain for up to 18 months in the soil, are farms re-stocked within this time window knowing that the soil may still be contaminated.

  • Comment number 43.

    The badgers have the same right to life as us, and they may carry the disease to balance out the population of cattle, it is us that is making it unnatural by breeding them for our own benefit. We need to let nature take its course and stop interfering have we not done enough!

  • Comment number 44.

    Andrea Pop.....they are beautifull, i live not too far from a strong badger community and they have come in and dug up our garden....still love them tho!

  • Comment number 45.

    i want to put an owl house on my oak tree, will it harm to tree to put nails in it?

  • Comment number 46.

    Badgers are probably the main vector for bovine TB (apart from cattle...) but my understanding is that many other mammals carry the disease, including voles and deer. Coverage of bovine TB invariably creates the impression that it's a "badger and cows" thing. Is there any expert insight on the significance of transmission by other species?

    Badgers are very obvious and their setts are easy to target, and it has to be said that some landowners have always resented the damage that their tunneling occasionally causes. By contrast an organised assessment of TB levels in the deer and vole population would be quite a challenge.

    Is the real issue with badgers simply the fact that they are a convenient, and in some circles popular, scapegoat, or am I just an old cynic?!

  • Comment number 47.

    I strongly disagree with the culling of badgers. There is no real evidence that badgers carry bovine TB. Lower costs should not be a factor to favour a cull especially when it is not proven to be fully effective, surely we should try all other options first i.e. vaccinations of either the badgers or cattle. What right does any human have to kill creatures that have live in and are much a part of the British countryside and heritage? This MUST be stopped until we are 100% sure that badgers contribute to the transter of bovine TB. If money is a factor why the vaccination program may not work surely a fund could be set up were people like myself could raise money and donate to save our beloved friend the badger.

  • Comment number 48.

    I love wildlife and livestock and it has been evident for too many years where the misinformed UK public's sympathys lie. Please open your minds and see the terrible loss of top quality cattle going on and on and thanks to DEFRAs incompetence ON..... The finances should be urgently directed to cattle vaccine development. SHAME on you Veterinary Pharmaceutical multi million Companies. You skim off huge profits from the easier developed livestock health products and do nothing to help control a very serious disease running riot in this country. Too angry/sad to continue! Shame on so many for this intolerable situation.

  • Comment number 49.

    Lets get on with a cull,I have seen at 1st hand what this feels like,been milking cows all my life.When one of your best cows fails a TB test it's heartbreaking.Always remember you and me the tax payer are paying the bill not the goverment.

  • Comment number 50.

    A government decision to cull, would be based on FALSE REASONING - see Ben Goldacre's BAD SCIENCE column supplying detailed analysis of the research to date in The GUARDIAN, 22 July 2011: "The Problem with Badger Culls." http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/22/badger-cull-trials-cattle-tb?INTCMP=SRCH
    My opinion? An appalling decision - if taken.

  • Comment number 51.

    Removing a native species over such large areas must have negative impacts on the ecology of these areas. We know that wiping out wolves in the UK had significant impacts (on deer populations for example, and as a result on the re- growth of native woodland). It is a sad that ecology has so little importance to DEFRA and that for a reduction of 28% in bovine TB, they are prepared to eliminate a native mammal from large areas of England.

  • Comment number 52.

    Recently I have seen and heard very little about the effect on badger populations of our removal of all their natural predators. We must then either assume that role ourselves or tolerate increasing disease in badger populations. Estimatew exist for a relatively rabies-free fox density, are similar figures available for badgers and T.B?

  • Comment number 53.

    Why is the government compensating farmers when their cattle die of TB? surely if this compensation scheme was brought to an end, all our problems would be solved? No compensation=no £1bn lost to the treasury, therefore no need to licence the farmers to kill badgers. I don't hear of the government acting as a free insurance underwriter for many other businesses, apart from the banks of course. Meat is a luxury product, not an essential, it is so strange that it should be heavily subsidised at such a time as privatisation, even of essential services, is the name of the game.

  • Comment number 54.

    Are we the only country that has a prob. with bovine TB transmitted by badgers?
    Do other countries have this problem ?
    I have heard that infected cattle can still be safely eaten, is this true ?

  • Comment number 55.

    In response to forestflower. About 2 yrs ago a lady caught TB from a badger close contact whilst feeding in her garden. I believe hospital treatment was enough to get her well. I hoped that the UK press would have made a bigger deal of this but they prefer trash items. Do not feed these lovely woodland creatures into gardens. They belong in livestock occupied feilds and woodlands.I find the site of urban foxes very distasteful as this fantastic predator is reduced to scavenging our waste.

  • Comment number 56.

    Culling Badgers is not the answer surely. What are we going to do ? Kill them all ? Impossible ! I hope a solution is found eventually as my heart sinks with Adams' when its time for his cattle to be tested and he gets a reactor - Its just Awful !!

  • Comment number 57.

    Must agree with Chrissie C in that the "powers that be" keep saying it's too expensive to develop a cattle vacine, but are prepared to spend huge amounts of money in compensation for cattle culled because of bovine TB. So why cannot they look at it from this point of view? Of course costs would have an overlap to begin with when they were spending on both compensation and development of the vacine. However in the end this would even out as the compensation payments would drop and once successfully up and running vacine costs should drop also.
    So why is there the delay? Surely there is enough pressure on the government to go via this route. It is terrible to see the upset caused by the cattle deaths that the farmers experience both in monetary ways and emotionally. Countryfiles Adam's farm illustrates this plight exactly. DO SOMETHING DEFRA!!

  • Comment number 58.

    When I was 13, we were tested for TB at school. I reacted to the test with a swelling on my arm, and it was thought that I had developed my own resistance to the disease because of contact with a relative who actually had TB.

    Cattle react to the TB test with a swelling, and are sent for slaughter.

    A farmer friend has lost quite a lot of cattle this way, but when checked after slaughter, NONE of them have had the disease! I've heard of other farmers whose cattle haven't had the disease either.

    Does anyone collate the number of slaughtered cattle that don't actually have TB?

    Is it not the case that reactors to the test are in fact showing they have their own immunity to it?

  • Comment number 59.

    Stacey Craft..sorry if i offended you imho thats how i feel about them if you like them digging your garden up thats your choice...they still stink and rake havock,like digging gardens up;)

  • Comment number 60.

    Regarding the TB/Badger culling issue, as I understand it TB is much the same as Anthrax and is an air borne disease, when the soil is disturbed spores of these diseases are released into the atmosphere, so yes there is a link with the number of Badgers and the reported incidents of TB, but the poor old Badger gets the blame, Part of my argument to save the Badger is this, Having visited Kruger National Park in South Africa on numerous occasions, they also have a problem with Bovine TB in their herds of Cape Buffalo, which causes a problem with other animals that feed off the carcases of dead animals in particular the Lion population. MY ARGUMENT IS THAT THERE ARE NO BADGERS IN KRUGER TO SPREAD THE DISEASE, so why do we blame our poor Badger population,Lets look somewhere else?????? THE soil

  • Comment number 61.

    We live in an area of Normandy heavily populated with cattle and badgers they both co exist without any culling of badgers, when mentioned to our local farmers what is happening in England they are amazed and say that there is not a problem here. Can anyone explain why that is? Great programme.

  • Comment number 62.

    Autumn Watch fail to mention, just like country file, that Bovine TB is also spread by cattle movement around the country by farmers and that Bovine TB can also be carried and spread by moles, foxes, rats and deer. Not just Badgers. Badgers are a convenient scapegoat for farmers and the government,. We need to protect the precious wildlife we have left and learn to live with it not destroy it.

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm curious about the posting on organic cattle having lower incidence of TB - I fear that badgers are getting the blame for a human generated situation. When will people learn that mass farming of any livestock will have longer term ramifications that it is short sighted too ignore. It also seems insane that we are trying to vaccinate the wild animals and not the domestic cattle!?! Stop blaming the badger and look at the real problems here!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Erika Enright - Contact the Badger Trust who can give you a local contact who will advise re your rights & what you can do. Normally this is free.

  • Comment number 65.

    Joe, humans kill more hedgehogs, ruin not just embankments but entire ecosystems and biomes than badgers. Are they equally as boring and unworthy of attention?

  • Comment number 66.

    If there's been no vaccine developed for bovine tb, what are they vaccinating badgers with?
    How difficult can it be to develop a vaccine - I was vaccinated against human tb 50 years ago.

  • Comment number 67.

    How and why do badgers contract bovine TB and how is it transmitted to cattle?

  • Comment number 68.

    We feed 4 to 5 Badgers every night and I think it would be a sadder place with out these colourful characters. what would be next ?

  • Comment number 69.

    There have been long term studies into the effect of badger culling on the spread of bovine TB. Studies from at least the late 90's have shown that culling badgers is ineffective in reducing the transmission of TB in cattle, and worsens the spread around the culling zone. A paper I read indicated how the worst transmitters of bovine TB amongst cattle was in fact other cattle. All this I learnt over a decade ago. If all parties concerned had accepted this knowledge, more effort could have been directed towards producing a vaccine instead of arguing. The culling debate should have been quashed long ago. The money used in the debate could have been used to help find a vaccination instead, and possibly subsidise farmers to help them to afford it.

  • Comment number 70.

    It would be my contention that too many of the assumptions made by DEFRA - both generally and more specifically in this case - are either erroneous, not proven or based upon a definite and misguided bias on their behalf. I think it needs addressing that not only does it appear that the scientific evidence does not support the cull but even if the department followed its own misguided policy, killing badgers will not solve TB in cattle and through perturbation it will make matters worse.

    I think the DEFRA preferred option laughable (were it not so tragic). That they believe the guidelines referred to will in any way be followed. Their naivety is astounding even for a department which has overseen numerous disastrous policies under a succession of governments. To argue that their approach of issuing licences to farmers/landowners is the most appropriate way to operate a badger control policy is almost impossible to police and I would question their ability to either independently monitor or, in a time of financial constraint, oversee the actions.

    As for the proposed licensing criteria for culling and vaccination, again I think this evidences DEFRA’s naivety and, it could be argued, evidences bias toward the landowning and (a significant but vocal minority of) the farming community (not all of whom – including a significant part of the NFU) are in agreement – especially among smaller scale farming concerns.

    DEFRA also argue that the proposed methods of culling are the most effective and humane. I cannot believe that they are serious in this contention.

    DEFRA also propose the use of vaccination, and particularly its focus on mitigating the perturbation effects of culling. Whilst vaccination may be part of the solution even DEFRA acknowledge that if used alongside culling its effect is completely - due to perturbation - negated. Badgers will be, by their nature, encouraged to move into vacated spaces and so unless culling continues unabated it is a totally ineffective method of containment.

    DEFRA have little done to encourage the use of vaccination as a viable alternative. I refer you to the Badger Trust – who argue that vaccination on its own will be beneficial and has to be the sustainable option. The development of a badger vaccine to be orally delivered should remain a high priority.

  • Comment number 71.

    Wendy from Normandy can your farmers come and talk to ours. I think our Farmers need educating.

  • Comment number 72.

    It takes best science and guzzilions of money to develop a complex vaccine to protect against the complex TB of various types. So watch your tail Mouse!

  • Comment number 73.

    I know where there is a busy badger sett and would be very sad to lose them, even if they do apparently dig holes in the nearby pony field for worms etc.

    It seems imperative that the vaccination scheme is followed and introduced across the whole of UK. If it works for ponies, dogs and cats, it can equally work for badgers or failing that vaccinate the cattle.

    Surely we have learnt by now that putting down hundreds cows and burning them, instead of finding another alternative, is not the way forward.

  • Comment number 74.

    In the not to distance past we use to bapsanate aginst TB then we stoped why ? Perhaps that we thought we wiped it out in the UK so if then where has it come from ? Mabe abored where it is still rampant brought in by infected humans maybe ? And on tv I seen that it is an air born infection so If thats the case then why shoot badgers it`s the TB we want ot get rid of isant it or we will be back to square one as the say and lots of us will get it and die as in the past. Ask the one who remember that like you ganparants.

  • Comment number 75.

    I don't think a badger cull is a long-term solution. We need to work more towards a programme of vaccinating cattle and of getting the vaccination recognised worldwide so that our cattle can be exported. Culling badgers will only result in the disease spreading without eradicating the disease which has to be the ultimate aim.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think we should remember that it was cattle that gave TB to the badgers to begin with. Like with deer we do not have any larger predators for the badger and so I understand that there should be some management but a widespread cull is not the answer to solving the TB issue. I believe that a vaccine for cattle (who started the problem) is the answer but that badger vaccine should also be explored.

    I certainly feel that some of the methods for the cull are out of the question. Allowing farmers to shoot badgers will only increase a widespread persecution of them. Is there anyway of testing the badgers for TB before culling? If a cull is to go ahead it must be done scientifically and all animals post mortemed and put to good use. Has the government though of exploring the use of badgers (if a cull were to go ahead) to increase funds, such as use of fur in cosmetics (shaving brushes) and stuffed animals for educational and wildlife crime education purposes?

  • Comment number 77.

    I need some clarification about this proposed cull. As you mentioned on tonights programme that the cost of destroying infected cattle is some £90million how would this be balanced against vaccinating all cattle when you would have to add the cost of the cull to the 90 million. The govt arguement has been that vaccination would be to expensive but would it be any more expensive than a cull plus the cost of destroying the cattle as this cull would also be less efficient than vaccination?

  • Comment number 78.

    Marion Roberts....
    The day a French farmer can educate the British I feel the Home Counties (where a lot of you huggies hail from) will best be monoculture onions.

  • Comment number 79.

    We, fortunately, dont have btb in Lancashire. Scientific evidence proves that a cull would not work. If, a ban on movement of cattle,was to be inforced to the full, we would be able to tackle this disease. As on country file, the other week with Adam Henson, bringing in, infected cattle from other areas

  • Comment number 80.

    We must put life before money - it all seems to be pointing to culling as it is cheaper. Wrong way to look at it - we need a permanent solution and vaccination is the way.

  • Comment number 81.

    Everyone seems to assume that a vaccine is a good thing with no question of efficacy or safety. The human TB vaccine has been withdrawn (all very low key as I remember) - does anyone know why? Even in humans, vaccines are not safety tested with double blind placebo controlled studies. There are concerns that they could be linked with a whole host of chronic diseases. Simply rear cattle more naturally & stop interfering with wildlife!

  • Comment number 82.

    Badgers have increased dramatically since they were protected. They will eat almost anything. Yes worms are a main item but they will dig out and eat bumblebees, any eggs or young birds they find and even lambs. As badgers have increased exponentially, I see the evidence each morning, hedgehogs have declined. I rarely see hedgehogs, even as road accidents, these days. TB is found in cattle, badgers and other wildlife and livestock. Yes cattle are moved but restrictions and testing reduce the risks of TB transmission. Some farms which do not bring in new stock have gone down with TB the only source being badgers.

  • Comment number 83.

    shropshire lad i thought you were too angry/sad to continue?
    If wildlife is wiped out in our countryside then it moves into urban areas. I have a badger sett under my shed and put out peanuts for them. TB has not put me in hospital yet.
    I am no where near the home counties sorry. My dad was a farm worker of welsh origin.
    If Normandy can rear cattle along side large badger populations then our farmers can definately learn from them.

  • Comment number 84.

    ok ITS GLOVES OFF TIME.

    Fact... There have never been so many badgers living on this island.

    Strongly supported fact.... Badgers are responsible for largescale destruction of on ground/near ground creatures. They eat anything and everything. In particular the doomed ground nesting birds such as waders and arable opportunists.

    Fact.... The RSPB and Wildlife Trusts choose to not recognise the badger problem and continue to blame those terrible intensive farmers.

    In my work within Env sector I regularly meet those unsung farming heroes who often give large swathes of their medium sized holdings for wildlife that they "shock,horror" actually enjoy observing amongst the same landscape as their beloved livestock.
    The huge badger popn. needs controlling NOW

  • Comment number 85.

    I know of a badger set, where the badgers and cattle have lived along side each other for 30 years, with no TB! Also, on a recent episode of Country file, Adam, the farmer, also stated that he had badgers and cattle on a farm for 25 years with no problems. So before this government makes badgers extinct in this country, they must first find out the real source of infection to both badgers and cattle. It is also possible to vaccinate against this disease, but a short sighted minister would rather eradicate a species than spend a relatively small amount of money to achieve this. Millions of people are against this proposed murder of a creature that as been around longer than humans, and the government must take notice of our views for once. Vaccinate not exterminate.

  • Comment number 86.

    Marion, I am sorry to say that you seem to have lost the genetic link with Welsh livestock farmers who are being driven to the edge by this TB epidemic.
    Let me remind you of the all too recent F&M outbreak that saw many of our great agricultural workers choose suicide.
    If I had been in their dreadfful shoes those DEFRA employed slaughterers of many non infected animals would not have crossed the closed farm gate.
    If we continue to drive farmers to unofficially cull many badgers, so be it.
    I do love my wildlife but please put people first unless they are openly destroying precious habitats.

  • Comment number 87.

    And back to treating Bovine Tb..
    Vaccination of cattle is simply the only way.
    Such is the lengthly testing process that risks to cattle health are minimised.
    For more info including latest research:

    http://www.bovinetb.co.uk/forum_topic.php?thread_id=17&page=3

  • Comment number 88.

    The movement of cattle should be restricted from TB hot spot areas. We could see how quickly foot and mouth spread because of such movement surely this is the same for the spread of TB?

  • Comment number 89.

    I would be totally opposed to a cull under any circumstances. There is strong evidence to support the fact that slaughtering badgers will actually make matters worse by dispersing some the animals and driving them further afield. Caroline Spellman is biased as she has strong ties with the NFU. Farmers don't own this country. They should stop intensive farming and they would no doubt have healthier livestock and wouldn't have to rely upon antibiotics and growth hormones. Other species have a right to share this planet. HANDS OF THE BADGERS.

  • Comment number 90.

    i am really fed up with it always being about the farmers, they only see animals as profit profit profit, there is no other industry in this country that dictates what we do like the farming industry. if farmers choose to keep animals in order to make a living they have to take the rough with the smooth just like all other businesses. leave the badgers alone!

  • Comment number 91.

    Until a few years ago my sons and myself worked an organic farm on Datmoor.We had a pedigree herd of 'rubies', loads of hens and a wood full of badgers. We also had a business making beautiful award wining pies. We would fill bins full of scraps, including the contents of our stock pots, and drive them over to our badger city in the woods. our local vet told us that because our badgers were so well fed they were in peak condition. We, in a high risk area never had a reactor. The vet told me keep them badgers fit and well fed an they will be healthy, stopping rogue, sick badgers from moving in. It worked for us and gave us delight to see the babies be happy, and healthy also

  • Comment number 92.

    We moved to Plymouth 28 years ago, the house we bought has a stream running along the bottom of the garden.
    Back then we had Dippers,Kingfishers,watervoles among other water life, (fair sized fish, damsel ,dragon flies).
    An ignorant neighbour reported the voles as rats , Plymouth Council eradicated everything ! The stream has never really recovered.
    After a while we noticed real rats, big brown things. I was very reluctant to get the Council involved again.
    But, we need not have worried. A family of Badgers started appearing every night , so we encouraged them with peanuts etc. The rat population showed a marked reduction. The Badgers even dug out the nests. Even better still the mink either moved on or were in turn eradicated by these wonderful pest controllers. Not a sniff of a rat now.
    Fact: remove badgers , pests move in! The farmers dislike Brock .What about the Brown Rat ??? They carry all sorts of nasties AND bite !
    Inocculation has got to be the way forward, not mass extermination! Please do not cull any more of these fun loving little clowns.

  • Comment number 93.

    I agree with most of the comments here that culling badgers is not the way forward. Its unproven that it would work. The only way a cull would be effective would be to remove every single badger in the country. This is totally impractical and just plain wrong!

    Vaccination is the ONLY way forward. vaccination of all cattle and as many badgers as possible. It would be expensive yes but I'm sure it must be cheaper than the millions being spent on compensating farmers. Unfortunately there currently is no vaccine available for bovine tb and it could be 2 years or more before there is and this is why we are not currently vaccinating.

    I feel the government is just doing this cull trial to try to appease the farmers rather than appearing to be doing nothing. Farmers in infected areas must stop ALL cattle movements on and off farms. Beef cattle must be born and reared on the same farm and then taken straight to slaughter and this would help stop it spreading.

    to Maxine, post #27 there are currently no factory farms of cattle in this country and if there were they wouldn't have contact with badgers so they would actually better! Its the contact between cows and badgers in fields that causes the problem to spread. Theoretically if all cattle were housed in sheds then tb spread would stop but this is in no way a practice I would support.

  • Comment number 94.

    Unfortunately we did not catch all of Autumnwatch's coverage of Defra's proposed badger slaughter. I wonder if the presenter mentioned that a Freedom of Information request has revealed that, since May 2010, the badger discussions by this government has, so far,cost the taxpayer £400,000, yet the majority of taxpayers do not want a badger cull. Have our blood-lusting Tory Ministers announced this figure to the general public yet I would like to know? They are also in discussions on how to repeal the Hunting Act - how much has that cost us so far?

    James Pace, Defra Minister, has stated that bovine TB last year led to 25,000 cattle being slaughtered, however, he failed to mention (as did Autumnwatch) that each year approximately 90,000 cattle are culled due to mastitis, 31,000 due to lameness and 125,000 are sent to the slaughterhouse due to infertility. It is about time farmers got their act together and stopped blaming the badgers for their own failings.

    Despite overwhelming opposition by the general public and scientists to a badger cull, Tory ministers have announced that they intend to go ahead and kill 70% of UK badgers in certain areas over a four year period. Defra’s recent announcement will allow farmers to randomly shoot free-running badgers lured out by food traps, mainly at night. Most farmers will opt for this method as it is the cheapest. Shooting is bound to cause horrific injuries as, because of the badger's dense anatomy, a clean kill cannot possibly be guaranteed.

    Badgers are harmless, loved, unique and secretive and their numbers are already in decline due to the hard winter and lack of earthworms. They are already under pressure from baiting with dogs, illegal trapping and road kill, but the biggest threat of all is from the dairy industry.

    Although we agree that bTB is a devastating disease and have some sympathy of the farmers (and the cattle0, it would seem that most farmers hysterically blame badgers for the spread of bovine TB, even though the real reasons lie much closer to home. Modern dairy farming is so intense that cows cannot cope and are riddled with diseases and exhausted from over work by being forced to produce vast quantities of milk. Their immune systems are in tatters and most are slaughtered at five or six years old. To this we can add grossly inaccurate TB tests that allow diseased animals to re-infect their own herd or to be transported around the UK, infecting new herds.

    The diminishing levels of bTB over the last three years, with no badgers%

  • Comment number 95.

    The diminishing levels of bTB over the last three years, with no badgers killed, confirms the pointlessness of culling and a £50m, ten year, independent investigation by top scientists (ISG) concluded that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the control of cattle TB” and ”could make matters worse”.

    The RSPCA is just one organisation that believes the bTB problem should be tackled using an approved vaccine licensed for use in March earlier this year, combined with more cattle testing, improved biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle. However, despite sound scientific evidence opposing a cull and huge public opposition, David Cameron, his Minister (all hunting mates) and the farming industry remain obsessed with killing off Britain’s wildlife.

    There will be more than a public outcry if this barbaric plan goes ahead, such is the strength of feeling amongst the general public. There will inevitably be much blood spilt and it will surely not only be the badgers that suffer. This inhumane cull must never be allowed to go ahead.

  • Comment number 96.

    @Patricia

    I know people that work for Defra. They tell me that culling would work and the evidence is there. But instead we waste millions compensating farmers because we make half attempts at culling because people that live in cities and have no understanding of the countryside other than fluffy animals will be killed and don't like the idea. Never mind that if a farm is found to have TB all the cows are killed. But yeah, blame it on a class war. Of course some "Scientist" will say killing badgers won't help and might make matters worse. That is because he probably works for a lobby. Oh but I expect Cameron and his land owning friends like killing off wildlife, and derive great pleasure from killing cattle for absolutely no reason.

  • Comment number 97.

    The reason the govenment, and farmers would like to cull badgers, is because of the success in new Zealand of the Possum slaughter model. Possums were introduced to NZ from Australia and the incidence of bovine TB increased. When the possum was culled, the incidence of tb in cattle declined.
    However, what this model tells me, is that while the possum must have contributed to the spread of m.bovis, a bacterium in the soil that largely infects cattle by ingestion when they eat grass; it is statistically impossible for all or many of these possums to have had tb themselves when they were introduced from Australia in the first place. So the real problem is m.bovis iteself, that is resident in soil, and is viable for many months. So there is a mix contribution of infection to cattle, and by culling badgers alone you will rid yourself of one contributor, but unless you also kill every other wild animal, including rabits, if m.bovis is in the soil, then such a slaughter, will be futile. No scientist or sceptic can disagree with this anti badger cull opinion, as there is absolutely no scientific evidence that can be offered in support of a single species cull itself, and if there is; where is it?

  • Comment number 98.

    As a member of a local badger group, I have myself been out and taken some friends/visitors out to watch badgers throughout this last summer/autumn.

    Two things:
    1. They are an integral part of the British countryside, fascinating creatures with real characters, each one of them; shy, but so friendly curious, playful and relaxing, fun to watch. Any badgers that end killed cannot be resurrected. Once badgers are dead, they are dead - on our children and grandchildren.
    2. I will have studied and understand the dimensions of the problem with bovine TB in cattle both on farmers and the wider general public and government. A vaccine may be some time away, but culling badgers also costs time, energy and money, quite apart from the fact that there is no real substantial proof it will work and if it does, it still will not solve the problem entirely. As far as I am concerned, WHY get side-tracked with killing badgers rather than just focusing hard on developing the vaccine that will be needed anyhow for/into a future, for badgers, if it turns out the easier first step forward and/or then also cattle? If a disease is out there, it will be out there - it is not the badgers that create it and even cattle can carry it as well?!

    I think we should get our noses down to the grindstone and focus on proving how brilliant we are/can be in finding actual solutions to problems rather than going ahead to focus on picking a scapegoat to kill - as some shortcut to say we have found a solution when actually we have not!

  • Comment number 99.

    Not a rhetorical question - what is it costing to develop a vaccine compared to £90 million or so a year in for compensation to farmers whose TB infected stock have to be slaughtered? Can you find out more about why this has been so long in coming? I think there may be problems with exports to Europe of vaccinated (live?) cattle. There may also be difficulties with distinguishing between reactors to an infection and to the vaccine with cattle. I am not in favour of a cull. It is likely to be messy, ineefective because almost certainly people whose land have setts in the cull zone will noto allow or do a cull. How much do we know of transmission of TB by other wild mammals - e.g. deer. Lastly rigorous biosecurity on farms is needed. Although Southern Scotland has quite a lot of badgers and cattle, mercifully there is no entrenched TB. That which has occurred seems to be on bought in stock.

  • Comment number 100.

    The fact is that the majority of the people in this country do not want this badger cull. Once again this government is being lobbyed by a small minority of rich farmers and landowners to carry out something which is against the majority view. There has already been a 70,000 signature petition handed in but they just dont listen.
    There is no TB problem in Scotland with badgers and cattle or in Germany. Farmers need to look after their livestock better and stop illegal movements of cattle around the country. If they are being compensated to such an extent I have no idea why they are complaining anyway.

 

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