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Saturday, 20 October 2012

Coalition, just leave those BADGERS alone.....

The epidimology of Bovine Tb and its vectors are complex and mired with political and emotional input and I certainly do not want to bring those factors into this group but I would make the following points:

1) Bovine TB has natural reservoirs in some parts of the country and they are not exclusively in badgers. It is a disease that can affect and be carried by all mammals including us. Culling a single species seems strange when it is well known that deer, foxes, hares, domestic cats and dogs etc etc also carry BTb.

2) Following restocking post F&M BTb made a huge stride north. This may have been as a result of a unrecognised movement of wildlife carrying the disease but is more likely to have been a result of farmers restocking with infected animals from the south west.

3) The constant shuttling of animals around the country does not help, but farmers love their marts (see the current "The mart's the heart" campaign being run by Farmer's Weekly).

4) None of the research that has been done on culling has ever involved free shooting which is what is now being proposed. It is very likely the the perturbation effect noted in the RBCT will be even worse with this method. In the RBCT it was found that the slight reductions in BTb in the cull area were substantially outweighed by increases in neighbouring zones appaently caused by dispersing animals.

5) The cost of the cull is increasing day on day and will mostly be born by the taxpayers.

6) Finally, Scotland which is officially BTb free has achieved that status by enhanced levels of testing, biosecurity and movement controls. Not a single badger or any other wild mammal was killed to achieve this.

I am afraid that the proposed cull will be a waste of time, money and wildlife brought to us by the department that was wanting to experiment with buzzard control a few weeks ago.

Andy Riches
Scottish Badgers Advisory Group