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You are here > Science & Nature message boards > Deleted > Bovine TB and the Badger.

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Bovine TB and the Badger.

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Message 1 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 22, 2009

Sorry about this, I know the subject has been done to death by just about every message board available, but having started a thread on badgers elsewhere that is fast going to die under a barrage of bTb posts, I thought it best to start a new discussion on the subject.

This is an emotive, very contentious subject, if you read all the papers on the DEFRA web page, and all those on the Badger Trust web page, and the NFU, I promise you like the majority of people you will come out the other end, completely confused.
There seems to be no doubt that there is a cross transmission between the 2 species, cattle and the badger, but, and it's a big but guys, the science, that we paid for as tax payers, does not recommend a cull of the badger, as a means to solving the problem.
There are just too many unanswered questions.
There that's a start, off you go.
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Message 2 - posted by kettykev (U14183354) , Oct 22, 2009

How about this then, one of the reasons the cull was not carried out was because it was found to increase the incidence of bovine TB on the edges of the areas in question. This proves that badgers are involved in the transmission of the disease.

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Message 3 - posted by EagerBeeverPhotography (U14158758) , Oct 22, 2009

Theres an easy answer to the tb problem vacinations, the goverment will not subsidise the vacinations aas it so called costs to much but how are they going to cure the problem or do they intend to " kill all the bagers ".
Its about time they stopped killing stuff and found other ways of controlling the tb.
surely a relocation problem would be better, and i for one would volunteer my time for free just to save one badger.

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Message 4 - posted by Nic Davies (U13674697) , Oct 22, 2009

Jan, you're very brave to start this off here. Not sure if it's a particularly productive thing to do.

The issue is a bit like Afghanistan. Everybody has a viewpoint and as a result the problem will probably never be solved.

Opinions have become far too ingrained for there now to be any meaningful progress. It's been badly handled by just about everyone who's laid their hands on it.

When you have an animal that has become on one hand an icon for a large number of people (and a logo for some serious conservation bodies to boot), and on the other a focus for those who are either directly affected by BovineTB or a large number of others who object to what is seen as Government interference in the countryside, then it is almost inevitable that an impasse will soon be reached.

Serious meaningful scientific study has been shown to be nigh impossible because of intereference or non-cooperation from both 'sides'.

Can we get Nelson Mandela interested in badgers?

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Message 5 - posted by kettykev (U14183354) , Oct 22, 2009

Eagerbeaver, not only have extensive vaccine trials been carried out but tenders are being prepared now to carry out the work in TB hotspots.

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Message 6 - posted by Nic Davies (U13674697) , Oct 22, 2009

That's good news. I guess this HAS to work to the satisfaction of ALL stakeholders (sorry for the jargon), or we're right back to square one (again).

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Message 7 - posted by lizzie (U14158282) , Oct 22, 2009

Research has shown that culling the badgers does not work. Culling leads to an increase in Bovine TB transmission, yes that shows that badgers do contribute to TB.
Culling leads to an increase in TB because by removing badgers from Area A, allows area A to be free area for badgers in surrounding area to move into. Therefore if an area is of lower ecological quality then the badgers in that area will move to area A to better ecological conditions. This is no doubt what causes the spread of TB.
However we cannot cull the entire badger population, we cannot allow this species to become extinct in this country. The human race has already done enough damage to the British countryside.

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Message 8 - posted by Sandgroundwalker (U14158296) , Oct 23, 2009

kettykev - Interesting that you point at the spread of badgers carrying TB caused by the culling. This actually hides some other basic facts rather than proving what we already knew. Fistly, there was never any doubt about the fact that badgers carry Bovine TB and they can act as a reservoir for the disease. However, it was clear that it was a chicken and egg situation in that we did not know which came first - cow-to-badger or badger-to-cow. It is now clear that there is a definite two-way route but that is not to say that TB came out of the wild badger population into the the domestic cattle population. Given what happened during the FMD crisis in 2001 it is far more likely that TB is spread around the country by movement of livestock but locally by badgers. The cull had some logical merits in this respect but it was misguided in more ways than one. Firstly, there was likely to be dispersal of animals during culling (as you correctly mention) but also the culling would not wipe out the disease unless cattle movements were severely restricted. Vaccination has got to be the way forward even if it has a lot of difficulties and is expensive.

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Message 9 - posted by SilverLady (U2091170) , Oct 23, 2009

"They" have been killing badgers for decades and it has not brought an answer to Bovine TB.

Finally "they" are about to trial a vaccine on badgers. A scientific study at last of an obvious way of hopefully controlling BTb without attempting to wipe out our total badger population.

It should be remembered that other wildlife such as deer and even some birds can also carry BTb .

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Message 10 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 23, 2009

Hi Everyone,
I did not intend originally to start this on here, but as I said I did not want my other thread sabotaged by TB, and as it seemed likely to go that way I started this.

I agree silverlady, we have been culling badgers to no avail since the 70s.
Up until a few years ago I was farming cows my self here, on the state where I live and work.
I agonised over the yearly TB test, and was very lucky not to have had a problem.
How ever, all the farms that boarder us went down with the disease, despite the fact that we have 2 setts on the land here, 3 other clans of badgers also cross the land in different places along our boundary.
I puzzled over why this should be, I thought at first it may be due to the deer fence that my boss put up when he stated planting woodland.
However the outbreak was eventually tracked to cow to cow transmission.
One of the farms involved had purchased 3 cows in a local market, 2 weeks after he had,had his TB test done, so it was another 12 months before the cows were tested again, and the 3 new cows and 10 of his herd went for slaughter with TB.
If those 3 cows had been tested prior to entering the market, this situation could have been avoided.
The farmer in question is also our local straw merchant, and all the other farms in the breakdown bought their straw there, except me, I got mine from a non livestock source.
How did the disease get to the straw, that's the best bit, all the farm cats tested positive and had to be put down, they would have been drinking the raw milk from the cows, as farm cats do, and they lived around the straw barns, where it is thought they urinated and defacated on the straw.
During the search for the source of the outbreak badgers were sampled, this loosely translates to ,trapped and culled for Post mortem, only a few were taken, but they died needlessly, they were clean, as I suspected all along.

It's a sad old tale and I sympathise with any farmer caught up in the middle of an outbreak, but making a scape goat of the badger is not I think the answer.
I will get a lot of flack for this I am sure.
Will we cull badgers, if the Conservatives get into government, they say yes without doubt.
That would mean all those here as well.

11,000 badgers were taken out in the last random culling trial here in Devon of those 11% were found to have or had the disease, a lot of healthy badgers died needlessly.

Sorry this is so long winded, just wanted to explain as best I could, my own experiences.

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Message 11 - posted by Val (U4437960) , Oct 23, 2009

Very well put, Jan. <ok> <ok>
They couldn't know that badgers had btb when they gassed their setts, so it was obvious many healthy badgers were culled needlessly, it was a nasty thing to do.
If it is possible to vaccinate ALL badgers against TB, I doubt very much it will stop the problem in cattle, unless those are vaccinated as well.
Val

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Message 12 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 23, 2009

I agree Val, vaccinate the cows would be a sensible move, but they are arguing all the reasons why they cant do it, mainly because when tested they show up as positive, and they won't except them for export if they are vaccinated.
This again is senseless, as all cows have passports now, and why can't it be stamped in those that they are vaccinated.

Also pre-movement testing should be compulsory, for any cow being sold on to another farm.
The NFU are against this and for the life of me I can't see why, it would go a long way towards picking up sick cows, before they can get any further down the line.

Coupled with this of course is the problem with the test itself, it is so fallible, only about 80% accurate, so not only does it throw up a lot of false positives, it also misses those that are sick.
The new Gamma interferon Blood test, seems to pick up a lot of sick cows, and it is controversial with the farmers because of that.
Some farms have lost as many as 80 cows in a herd with this one, I have not heard that it is unreliable, DEFRA say it is used world wide without problems.
It is a real dilemma as far as I can see, for Farmer and badger.

There is a report on the badger trust web site about the situation in Ireland.It Says....
In some parts of the country the badger is almost extinct due to the very heavy culling, using snares, (awful death that for any animal.)
However the incidence of TB has risen in the national herd by 13%, so it looks like a cull may not work any way.
Now Wales is to go down the same route, our farmers in Britain will be lobbying hard for a cull here if they go ahead.

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Message 13 - posted by Nic Davies (U13674697) , Oct 23, 2009

Hi Jan, are you sure snares are being used systematically to 'kill' badgers? That would be illegal. Any evidence of that should be reported to the police and the RSPCA.

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Message 14 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 24, 2009

Hi Nic,
In the Irish republic, snares are being used in the cull to eradicate TB, this has been going on for a considerable time, not illegal when they do it apparently, it is the preferred method there.
www.badger.org.uk/_A....
I hope this link works for you nic, if not go to the Badger Trust web page, click on News and I think you will find the report on page 4.
Don't think it is illegal when governments do it, and you may be interested to know that this is the method we are talking of using against the badger in Wales as well, they say the snares are humane ones, HUH, ever seen a humane snare.!!

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Message 15 - posted by Nic Davies (U13674697) , Oct 24, 2009

Hi Jan, I'm busy with local stuff at the moment so apologies for the delay.

I use the term "killing" snares below to mean those snares that are self-locking, as opposed to so-called 'free-running' snares that are mostly legal, providing they are used correctly and not modified to self tighten.

As you can imagine, the laws and their application is a bit of a minefield to say the least, however it's important to get the basics right.

I would be amazed and appalled if Trevor Lawson's comment about snare use in Eire is accurate - ie that "killing" snares are being used systematically. I would certainly need to follow that up to find out more.

I would always recommend anyone interested in an issue to go to original documents, not summaries or interpretations by other people. Though the report from which this is extracted is confusing in that it does indeed talk of badgers being 'strangled' (this I believe is an oversight and a mistake), the full statement it actually makes is as follows:

"On any given night, up to 6,000
snares are laid for badgers across Irelandís
farmland[2] and any caught badgers
are shot when the snare is inspected
sometime in the next 24 hours. This
equates to 1.3 million snares annually,
yet so few badgers are left that not even
6,000 are caught each year."

It goes on to quantify the injuries sustained by badgers in this 24 hour period, which are awful and indefensible. However, it is apparent that Eire is not using illegal "killing" snares, and is bound, as is the UK (though we seem to be even less stringent in the application of the law) by such legislation as the Habitats Directive. I am unfamiliar with Eire's own domestic legislation.

I would iterate that the use of such "killing" snares in the UK remains illegal under domestic and European legislation.

The only snares that are legal are those designed (though often not effectively unfortunately) to restrain the animal, whereupon a supposedly humane method is then used to destroy the poor beast (as mentioned above).

Of course we all know that these snares sometimes become killing snares simply because animals often do not lie quietly in such devices awaiting their fate. Nor are they inspected as regularly as they should be. They also catch many non-target species or domestic animals such as cats and dogs. Indeed, the Burns Report highlighted that approximately half of all animals caught in snares were non-target animals.

To summarise, ANYONE in the UK who sets such a killing snare or deliberately modifies a legal snare is breaking the law. The UK Government included.

Hope this helps. I'm not being critical, but I think you weaken your argument with those who defend such practices if your own 'facts' are flawed.

Good luck with your defence of badgers.

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Message 16 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 25, 2009

You can read a report called Ireland's Bloody Shame, it is I believe somewhere in the mass of reports on The BT web page, when I get a minute I will find it for you.
I think you will find that the use of snares in Ireland is a fact, and I think you will also find that, we are talking up the same method here, along with the possible use of leg cuff traps, not seen them, though have heard of them before, but the general idea is to capture the animal by a leg and then shoot it.
I did not like the sound of it myself, having seen what a fox can do to chew it's way out of a snare when caught by the leg.Would a badger be any differnt if held to long?
Have a fox here now with no front right paw, having chewed it off to get out of a snare.

Don't like gas either, in fact the mass culling of any animal id despicable, when there is so much uncertainty about the outcome.
Very emotive subject this.

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Message 17 - posted by Nic Davies (U13674697) , Oct 25, 2009

Hi Jan, I'm not sure if we're talking at cross purposes here.

I'm simply making the point that Eire does not authorise the use of the self-locking snare (ie killing snare), a device designed to actually kill the animal with no further intervention. These remain illegal both in Eire and in the UK.

Personally I do not agree with ANY snaring as it all leads to problems of varying degrees and virtually all use results in a high capture rate of non-target species.

I'm pretty sure we agree with each other, but somehow you've got hold of the wrong end of the argument I'm making. This isn't assisted by the wording in the very report you mention above (and from which I extracted the quote above), in which it is intimated by its poor wording that badgers are being killed by these snares.

Hope this clarifies things. Cheers, Nic

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Message 18 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 26, 2009

Hi Nic, yes I agree the wording is a bit confusing, but you did question whether snares were being used in Ireland, and I posted that to show you what the badger trust is saying.
I have no idea what kind of snare is being used, somewhere in the myriad of reports on the DEFRA page is another report about Ireland and Wales that states yet again that snaring is the preferred method, not the illegal self locking variety, but even the legal free running snare is a cruel instrument of death, they refer to a humane snare being used.

Free running snares are supposed to be less damaging, it is a joke, an animal in a snare is not going to sit quiet and wait till released or dispatched, they struggle until the wire cuts deep into their necks or bodies, often taking hours to die in agony, have seen enough of the damage for my self to vouch for this. Snares full stop are cruel and inhumane, by their very nature.

I am not sure we are at cross purposes,
neither of us like snares in any form from what I can see, and I have never come across an humane snare.
As I said in the beginning you can read everything that has been said and still come out scratching your head.
I have files full of reports, letters from people involved in culling as well, Cage trapping and shooting was probably the most humane way.
Someone pointed out on another post how easy it is to shoot a badger, they follow the same paths every night, but even if you did it that way, you have no guarantee you have got them all

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Message 19 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 26, 2009

Hi Nic, yet again LOL
I hope this link works, not always good at this.

www.defra.gov.uk/def...

There are alot of differing reports on here of course to do with snares, the 10th on the list talks about Ireland and one or two others as well.
They also cover the humane body snare.

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Message 20 - posted by Jan Curtis (U3036571) , Oct 26, 2009

Hi Nic, yet again LOL
I hope this link works, not always good at this.

www.defra.gov.uk/def...

There are a lot of differing reports on here of course to do with snares, the 10th on the list talks about Ireland and one or two others as well.
They also cover the humane body snare.

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