Badger Trust welcomes renewed focus on cattle measures to lower bovine TB
The Badger Trust has welcomed new cattle measures introduced by the Government aimed at reducing the spread of bovine TB.
From the 6th April 2016 onwards, new legislation will require farmers in the Low TB Risk Area of England to arrange for post-movement testing of cattle coming from the rest of England and Wales.
All herds in the High Risk Area of England affected by a new TB breakdown, will now need to pass two strict tests before movement restrictions are lifted. This will increase the chances of finding all TB infected cattle and reduce recurrent breakdowns.
The Government is also funding free pre-sale TB tests to any herd owner in the Low Risk Areas, selling twenty or more cattle in a single purchase. This is aimed at providing additional assurance for buyers and to mitigate the risk of undetected TB cattle spreading the disease to new herds.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will also start offering farmers the option of private Interferon Gamma blood tests, to diagnose TB under certain conditions subject to prior approval from the APHA.
Commenting on the new cattle measures the CEO of the Badger Trust, Dominic Dyer said:
"For the past 5 years we have been telling the Government to stop playing the badger blame game and focus on the real cause of the spread of bovine TB, which is cattle. We therefore welcome these new cattle measures aimed at reducing the risk of moving diseased cattle around the country, but they do not go far enough. So far the Government has wasted over £25 million of public money killing mostly TB free badgers, in a culling policy which is failing on both scientific and humaneness grounds. This figure could rapidly rise to over £100 million over the next 5 years, if badger culling is extended to new areas of the country.
The money being wasted on badger culling should be diverted to providing farmers with free access to Interferon Gamma blood tests. As well as funding more effective gates and fences on farms to prevent interaction between wildlife and cattle, also to introduce an annual TB testing system across all of England, as is currently in place in Wales.
Unlike badger culling, these cattle measures have been proven to significantly reduce bovine TB and offer a far better return on the use of public funds, for both the tax payer and the farmer."
Commenting on the response from the farming industry to the new cattle measures, the Chair of the Badger Trust, Peter Martin said:
"We are very disappointed to see the farming lobby is calling into question the need for such control measures, in view of their impact on cattle trading. If they are serious about tackling the social and economic burden of bovine TB, the farming industry must accept that killing badgers is a dangerous distraction from dealing with the spread of the disease in cattle. The vast body of scientific research has yet to identify a clear badger-to cattle infection path and other peer reviewed studies have shown that badgers avoid pasture and farm buildings containing cattle. In the absence of proper scientific information and perhaps an inherent unwillingness to blame themselves or their cattle, farmers are blaming badgers instead."
Sadly badgers are usually in the news for all the wrong reasons; persecution, cruelty, illlness.
It's a nice change therefore to have a fun story about badgers...
The BBC reported last week that a badger spotted on the runway at Newquay airport in Cornwall delayed a plane landing. A happy ending both for the plane and its passengers, and for the badger!
Here is their story:
A badger on an airport runway forced a passenger plane to abort its landing.
The flight from Gatwick to Newquay was an estimated 300ft (90m) off the ground when the wild animal was spotted.
Passenger Pete Atkinson said there was a tense five-minute gap between the aircraft climbing sharply away from the runway and the pilot announcing the badger's presence.
The airport said it was a case of being "cautious in the interest of safety".
Mr Atkinson, a freelance cameraman, said: "We were on the final approach when all of a sudden the under-carriage was lifted back up and the engines revved up.
"People went quiet and started to look out of the window as we headed out over the sea."
About five minutes later, the pilot announced the diversion of the aircraft carrying about 60 people was due to a badger being seen on the runway.
Mr Atkinson said passengers then laughed and made jokes about roadkill.
FlyBe flight 806 was due to land at 21:15 GMT on Sunday was delayed by around 15 minutes.
A spokesman for Cornwall Airport Newquay said there was "a suspected badger sighted on the runway by the bird control unit".
The spokesman said the aircraft landed safely following a full check of the runway.
A Jab Well Done
Shropshire Badger Group have described as “a resounding success” their first full year of offering free badger vaccinations against bovine tuberculosis (bTB) to farmers and landowners around the county. Bovine tuberculosis is a serious, slow-growing respiratory disease of cattle which can also be transmitted to wildlife.
“Needled” by the fact that thousands of perfectly healthy badgers had already been experimentally slaughtered in parts of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset as part of Government attempts to fight cattle TB, and appalled at the prospect of hired gunmen roaming around their local countryside at night if the badger cull were brought to Shropshire, the unpaid volunteers of Shropshire Badger Group decided in 2014 to put their expertise, resources and funds into their own badger vaccination scheme.
A total of 41 badgers across 9 sites around Shropshire have now been vaccinated during 2015 by specially trained and licensed volunteer vaccinators and their assistants, all members of Shropshire Badger Group.
A spokesman for the Group explained that the work involved braving steep hillsides, unsociable hours, and weather conditions that ranged from blistering sunshine to torrential downpours.
The spokesman continued: “Government research has shown that not only does vaccination significantly reduce the direct risk of an individual badger developing the disease, but it also provides some indirect immunity to unvaccinated badger cubs. Not every individual badger needs to be given the vaccine, which is similar to the BCG vaccine used in humans. If more than a third of the adult badgers in a social group are vaccinated, the risk of the disease developing in unvaccinated cubs is reduced by 79% and this means that eventually the total badger population is likely to become immune to TB.”
The badger vaccination initiative had already been publicly endorsed by Shropshire NFU representative Oliver Cartwright, and just last month it received the personal blessing of North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson live on air during Radio Shropshire’s ‘In the Hot Seat’ programme with presenter Jim Hawkins.
Shropshire Badger Group’s spokesman summarised: “We are dismayed and disappointed by the continuing delays in implementing the obvious solution to bovine TB, which is to vaccinate the cattle themselves. We know that there is a scientifically proven cattle vaccine available, but that its deployment is being obstructed by political shenanigans. That’s why we brought in our own badger vaccination programme and we shall be continuing with it in 2016. We believe our scheme makes a positive contribution in the fight to control bovine TB and to help the farming community. We are always keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with our work in any way, including donations from well-wishers. We can be contacted via our helpline on 01743 271999, our website www.shropshirebadgergroup.co.uk, our Facebook page, or even our Twitter account @shropsbadgers.”
There is to be a public meeting in Hereford to discuss opposing any roll-out of the badger cull to Herefordshire.
The meeting will take place on Friday 19th February at 7pm at the Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, 21 King Street, Hereford HR4 9BX.
It would be great for people in Shropshire to support our neighbours in Herefordshire. We have to keep hoping Shropshire won't be targeted next.
The Hereford Badger Group held a protest yesterday (21st November 2015) against the possible rollout of the government’s badger cull to the county next year.
Dominic Dyer, Badger Trust chief executive, Mark Jones, a vet with Born Free Foundation and Lynn Sawyer, an activist, all spoke to the crowds who turned out to make their voice heard.
Despite the lack of success –on any criteria – of the government’s previous ‘trial’culls in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset, it still seems hell bent on rolling out the flawed and cruel measure to other counties.
Lynn Sawyer urged local people to get out and get to know their local setts, to keep an eye on them and report any unusual or suspect activity BEFORE any cull starts, so that they can be well prepared to defend their local badgers if and when the time comes.
The BBC reported on its website that campaigners started the march around town at 1pm, followed by speakers and discussion at Castle Green.
Nigel Tolly, from West Midlands Badger Group, which joined the protest, said they wanted to recruit people to take part in a lawful, peaceful protest during a cull if it was rolled out to Hereford.
"The idea of the event is to bring public awareness of the fact that a badger cull could be rolled out into Hereford next year," he said.
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