Shropshire Badger Group has launched a programme to encourage local farmers to participate in vaccination of badgers against bTB. The programme will be free of cost for the first six farmers in the county who sign up. Farmers can contact SBG on 01743 271999 or via the contact form on our website.
After issuing the following press release last week, SBG has received several expressions of interest from farmers, which are currently being followed up, but more applications are welcome.
"Following the announcement by the Secretary of State that there is to be no extension of badger culling this year, and presuming that there is unlikely to be any reintroduced in 2015, during election year, the Shropshire Badger Group wants to reaffirm its support for badger vaccination as a very effective method of dealing with bovine TB within the badger population, in which all the surveys show that the level of disease is actually quite low.
"Vaccination is a highly successful and proven method of dealing with disease in both animal and human populations and we have every confidence in the extensive trials of the BCG vaccine at the Government Research Station in Gloucestershire as well as gathering the evidence from the Welsh vaccination project, as well as experience from our own and Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s involvement in vaccination projects within Shropshire.
"We are well aware that bovine TB is a very difficult problem within the farming industry and so, as a gesture of our desire to help and support farmers in dealing with this problem, we intend to demonstrate our confidence in badger vaccination by offering full four-year vaccination schemes to the first six Shropshire farmers to contact us; totally free of charge.
"For any applications beyond the first six, we will provide all the preparatory work without charge and, if we can find further funding, then we will continue with the totally free schemes."
Jim Ashley, Chairman
Employees of the company running the pilot cull in Somerset were present in police operations rooms and directed the deployment of officers against protesters, a police investigation has said.
Around half of the personnel in the police's night-time control centre were either from HNV Associates or the NFU, according to the report, seen by the Guardian.
Campaigners said the report shows that the police acted almost as a 'private force' for the culling company.
Damian Carrington in the Guardian online reports: "A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said having cull representatives in the control room gave them real-time information that helped keep the public safe and said changes to policing the cull when it resumes this year were still being discussed. The NFU, which also speaks for HNV Associates, denied that its members or anyone from the culling company had directed police action."
But the report says that of six people in the police control room, three were officers, while two were from HNV Associates and one was from the NFU. The police communications officer in the room said he felt the cull representatives "were actually directing the police" where to go to deal with incidents. The senior officer investigating the complaint, which had been made by a member of the public who had been "sett sitting" when badgers were shot, said that if the officers involved had been directed by cull operatives, this was "of concern and should not have been the case".
You can read the full article on the Guardian's website.
The Shropshire Star has today (5th April) reported the news that Owen Paterson's proposed rollout of the 'pilot' badger culls to Shropshire this year will not now happen.
The environment secretary made his announcement on Wednesday, following the publication of a report by the Independent Expert Panel, set up to monitor last year’s pilots, which concluded that the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire had been neither effective nor humane.
It also proved much more expensive than anticipated: each dead badger ended up costing the taxpayer more than £1,500, according to Defra figures – almost three times as much as it was costing to vaccinate them, as the Welsh government is now doing. The cost implications could well be a decisive factor with a general election approaching.
Some farmers are disappointed that the pilot culls will not be rolled out, but wildlife groups have hailed the decision. Writing on the Guardian website, Patrick Barkham says: “He [Paterson] should be congratulated by scientists, activists and farmers for choosing an alternative – vaccination – which looks dangerously like science-led policy-making.” You can read the full article here.
Paterson announced that badgers will now be vaccinated in ‘buffer zones’ around the edges of TB hotspots to prevent the further spread of TB infection. This is to be welcomed.
Unfortunately, the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire are set to continue, with changes made to their implementation following lessons learned from last year’s pilots.
The Shropshire Star's article has a poll where you can have your say on whether the environment secretary's decision is the right one; and you can read the IEP’s full report here, and Defra’s response.
The British Veterinary Association appears to be threatening to withdraw its support for the government's disastrous “pilot” badger culls.
Defra's response to the findings of the Independent Experts’ Panel has been criticised, with critics remaining unconvinced that the called-for improvements will be made in order to make the culls both more effective and more humane.
The Western Morning News reports today (23rd April 2014):
“The battle over the findings of the Independent Experts’ Panel into the pilot badger culls has taken an increasingly bitter turn in recent days, with the British Veterinary Association threatening to withdraw support for the culls.
“The BVA Council said effectiveness and humaneness would have to improve before the culls could be rolled out more widely. And it criticised Defra’s response to the IEP report which it said failed to provide convincing evidence that the necessary improvements would be made. It is calling for an urgent meeting with Defra.
“The BVA said it had decided to support the continuation of cull in Somerset and Gloucestershire – but only because it said it feared halting culling now could lead to an increase in bovine TB.
“The BVA’s intervention came as the NFU’s South West regional board expressed frustration about the direction the fight to reduce bovine TB – in the wild and in cattle – was taking. It said politics had taken precedence over animal health and was compromising the welfare of all susceptible species, including domestic pets.”
You can read the full story here.
Ecologist website has today (Friday 14th February) reported that Defra has quietly released astonishing new figures showing that bTB was declining in autumn 2013, even as Owen Paterson was claiming that it was on the increase.
According to the website, in mid-January Defra released the news that it had been 'overstating' the figures for the incidence of bovine TB due to 'glitches in data entries' since September 2011.
The numbers of herds 'not Officially Free of BTB due to a TB incident' - non-OFT for short - would have to be revised significantly downwards for 2012 and 2013.
The revised figures have now appeared this week, to little fanfare.
While there were some minor revisions to the numbers of new-herd incidents and the number of herds under movement restrictions, the real shock comes in the figures for the non-OFT herds.
During the very period that Paterson had claimed that BTB incidence was increasing, the number of non-OFT herds - those considered to have BTB or to be at serious risk of BTB - dropped.
Among other figures, in Wales, no doubt due to biosecurity measures and the new vaccination policy, there was a 24% fall in new herd infections.
To read the full story, click here.
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