Shropshire Badger Group's 2017 AGM will be held, as last year, at the Wroxeter Hotel near Shrewsbury, SY5 6PH, on Thursday 20thApril. The evening will begin with a light buffet at 7pm followed by the formal meeting at 7.30pm, which will be kept as short as possible, and that will be followed by an illustrated talk presented by wildlife artist Ben Waddams, entitled ‘Lions, Livingstone and the Rift Valley’. You are all most welcome and it would be good to see new faces.
The Badger Trust has joined forces with Naturewatch Foundation to help train police forces to deal with the issue of badger baiting. It has put out this press release about the initiative. Please spread the word!
It’s February, which means all across the UK badger cubs are being born in the warmth of their setts. By March and April, the cubs will be exploring the tunnels and chambers, gradually making their way out into the open world in late April. In April, our newsfeeds are flooded with wonderful pictures of young badgers playing and discovering their new world. But not all cubs will make it this far…
Cub season is also a favorite time for badger baiters.
When a sow is with her cubs she will fight ferociously to defend her babies and protect them from these vicious intruders. Baiters will dig down into the sett, exposing the cubs to the cold winter air, and force the new mother to leave her young as she is set upon by a pack of dogs.
Both the new mother and the dogs will face countless injuries. For the badger this is almost always a death sentence for both mum and her cubs. The fighting dogs rarely receive proper veterinary care and often succumb to their injuries or are killed inhumanely.Every single day in the UK a badger becomes a victim of wildlife crime. Last year alone, we received 624 reports relating to badger crimes across England and Wales. Despite the widespread nature of these crimes only seven cases were heard at court.
While progress has been made in recent years, many police forces are still ill-equipped to tackle the growing issues of badger cruelty and effectively investigate these cases.
It's not too late to help...
Accredited badger persecution police training
We have joined forces with Naturewatch Foundation to deliver our accredited training course to at least five police forces across the UK before the end of the year. We have worked with Naturewatch Foundation to identify forces that have high reports of badger cruelty allegations with low prosecution rates.
The one day course will cover:
* Badger ecology, behaviour and habitats to enable police to recognise unusual activity and identify active badger setts.
* How to best use legislation to protect badgers.
* How to act as an expert witness in court to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that an active badger sett was interfered with, or that a person had willfully killed, injured or taken, or attempted to kill, injure or take a badger.
* How to investigate a crime scene and properly gather, record, keep and present evidence that will stand up in court and lead to a successful prosecution.
* How to work with key partner organisations like Naturewatch Foundation and the Badger Trust.
Andy Swinburne, crime and intelligence co-ordinator for the Badger Trust, says:
“The Police have a statutory requirement to investigate wildlife crime including badger baiting and the digging of their setts. Unfortunately, wildlife crime training is not a compulsory subject on the national Police curriculum, and therefore too often it is not understood or dealt with in an efficient and effective manner. Problems can occur from the very beginning, when the call first comes in to the control room. When a member of the public phones to report the disturbance of a badger sett, some Control Room Officers have been known to dismiss the issue as not a police matter, instead referring callers to council dog wardens, or to the RSPCA. Past the control room to the Officer attending the crime, inexperience or a lack of knowledge has also at times failed the effective investigation. There has of course been some very good police work carried out across the wildlife crime arena, including badger crime, and the intention is to build upon that through education, and ultimately reach an improved level of response and investigation.”
* Naturewatch Foundation is a registered charity working to improve the lives of animals. Their Mission is to end animal cruelty and advance animal welfare standards around the world.
The Badger Trust has today (23rd August 2016) issued the following press release in response to the government's announcement that it intends to extend the badger cull to five more areas from the autumn.
Badger Trust condemns decision to extend disastrous badger cull to 5 new areas of England
The Badger Trust has condemned a decision by the government to expand badger culling to 5 new areas of the country (South Devon, North Devon, North Cornwall, South Herefordshire and West Dorset), despite the complete failure of the policy over the last 4 years.
Since 2013 the government has licensed the culling of 3,916 badgers in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset at a cost to the taxpayer in excess of £25 million. None of the badgers killed have been tested for TB and many have died as a result of an experimental 'free shooting' method, which has been condemned as inhumane by both the government's Independent Expert Panel and the British Veterinary Association.
DEFRA statistics show that despite killing thousands of badgers the number of cattle slaughtered for TB continues to rise both in and around the culling zones.
Responding to the government's decision to extend the badger cull the CEO of the Badger Trust, Dominic Dyer, said:
"After 4 years of badger culling no one can now doubt that the policy has been a disastrous failure on scientific, cost and humaneness grounds. For the new DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom to ignore the facts and extend this policy into 5 new areas of the country defies belief.
The badger cull is built on three pillars of sand, incompetence, negligence and deceit, and will ultimately collapse because it fails to address the key cause of bovine TB, which is cattle to cattle infection.
We could kill every badger in England but bovine TB would continue to spread in cattle herds, due to inaccurate TB testing, excessive numbers of cattle movements and poor biosecurity controls."
The Chair of the Badger Trust, Peter Martin, said:
"The badger is being used as a scapegoat for failures in the modern intensive livestock industry that have led to a significant increase in bovine TB in cattle herds. Recent changes to the cull licencing regime have made it clear this policy is now just a 'numbers game' based on indiscriminate and untargeted killing of this protected wildlife species. They have abandoned any pretence of science or control.
We now have conclusive scientific evidence proving beyond doubt that badgers actively avoid cattle in pasture and farm yards, and that cattle avoid feeding on grass where badgers urinate or defecate. This effectively means that the likelihood of badgers passing TB to cattle within the farming environment is so low that it is impossible to distinguish it from any other potential environmental vector, including cattle themselves.
By extending the badger culls to 5 news areas of the country the taxpayer is now facing a bill in the region of £100 million by 2020 on a policy which will fail to deliver any significant reduction in bovine TB for livestock farmers.
The government in Westminster is using badgers as a political fig-leaf to mask its total failure to get to grips with bovine TB. They should be looking to Wales to see how they have waged a far more successful campaign against the disease, based on more rigorous TB testing, tighter cattle control and bio-security measures. New TB herd incidents in Wales are down by 14% in the last 12 months and all this has been achieved without culling badgers. And as Ireland is also about to abandon its cull policy in favour of vaccination it is way past the time for DEFRA to do the same."
Dr Chris Cheeseman, badger ecologist, has produced an important new paper on bovine TB. Titled The Elephant in the Room, it is a scientific perspective on the badger/cattle TB issue and what it calls 'the remarkable failure of this government to address the fundamental problem'.
Dr Cheeseman covers the issues of cattle testing and badger culls, and concludes that culls cannot solve the problem of TB in cattle.
You can read the full paper here.
Badger Persecution: Appeal for vigilance around Church Stretton
We are hearing from a number of sources that badgers are currently suffering regular abuse in the general area of Church Stretton.
All the information we have received to date has been passed to the police, and both the police and Shropshire Badger Group are keen to hear from anyone who is suspicious about the activities of men with dogs, particularly near to a known badger sett.
If the men with dogs are actually seen to be digging or carrying spades, please DO NOT approach them, but immediately ring the police on 999, stating that you think a wildlife crime is in progress. Ask the police to attend right away and give as many identifying details as possible about the men themselves, their dogs, and their vehicles, eg make, model and registration numbers.
Always ask for the Wildlife Crime Officer to attend in person, but remember that speed is essential if the culprits are to be caught in the act. Also ask the police to run the vehicle details through their computer to check if the owner is a known wildlife criminal. If possible, take photos of the vehicles and tyre treads.
We can be contacted via our Badgerline on 01743 271999, our website www.shropshirebadgergroup.co.uk, or our Facebook page, if anyone has information or suspicions they would like to pass on to us in confidence.
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