Dee Finney's blog May 28, 2013 page 509  BADGER CULLING IS ON AGAIN IN ENGLAND

 

 

 

 

Dee Finney's blog

start date July 20, 2011

today's date May 28, 2013

updated 7-3-13

updated 12-10-13

UPDATED 1-6-2014

page 509

CULLING MAY START AGAIN IN 2014

IF YOU LIVE IN ENGLAND, PLEASE HELP PREVENT THE MURDERING OF THESE ANIMALS

Fears that badger cull will resume

1:01pm Friday 3rd January 2014

By SNJ Reporter

MADAM - Your headline and Comment recently in the Stroud News & Journal may give a sense of relief to those opposed to the government’s badger cull.

But make no mistake, ministers are fully intending to resume the slaughter next year.


Both Mr Paterson and Mr Eustice have drawn reference to earlier trials, where some treatment areas were estimated to have a low culling efficiency, as justification for carrying on with the current culls.


As a co-author of the scientific paper they have referred to, I have to warn that this is an entirely unjustified, indeed dangerous, position to take.

The recent shambolic pilot culls have departed so far from the scientifically controlled conditions of the previous trial, that using past results as a model to predict a beneficial outcome of the current culls frankly beggars belief.


Expert opinion believes that the protracted, poorly conducted recent culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire will have actually helped spread TB in both badgers and cattle. 


The latest research has estimated that just 5.7 per cent of cattle TB outbreaks are directly due to badgers.


The biggest problem is the spread of the disease among the cattle themselves.


There are sustainable options, such as rigorously improved cattle testing, better farm biosecurity and the development of vaccines.
Defra should focus on these and stop the misguided culling of badgers permanently.


People must lobby the government to make this happen. In this regard it should not be forgotten that Stroud’s own MP, Neil Carmichael, is a staunch supporter of badger culling. If we don’t act now thousands more badgers will be killed next year for no good at all.


Incidentally, the cost of policing the pilot culls alone could have paid for a badger vaccination programme.


Dr Chris Cheeseman Brownshill

 

© Copyright 2001-2014 Newsquest Media Group

 

 

TOPIC:  BADGER CULLING ON AGAIN IN ENGLAND

THIS IS A TRAVESTY AGAINST INNOCENT BADGERS. 

BADGERS ARE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES AND THIS SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING.

VIDEO INTERVIEW    10-18-2013  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-3jdtH26Hg

QUESTION IS NOW:  WHO IS EATING THE MEAT FROM THE COWS WITH TB?

 

TB Meat or Not TB, That Is the Question - The Answer? Who Knows...

 

Fresh from the horse meat scandal, DEFRA has found itself in a new controversy, having again failed the

British consumer in food traceability and labelling. Thanks to the work of Care for the Wild, who worked

closely with the Sunday Times to expose a story that affects all of us, the public now knows that over

20,000 cattle infected with bovine tuberculosis (TB) enter the food chain in the UK each year, and the

government doesn't know where they go, where they are sold, and who is eating them.


This means you could be tucking into some TB infected meat right now, as could your family, your friends,

your children - at home, at school, at hospital, from the local take away. Like I said... who knows.


You may wonder why a wildlife charity is involved in breaking a public health issue like this. Well, the reason

is simple - it all comes down to badgers. We wanted to expose the absolute inability of Defra to manage the

bovine TB (bTB) issue, and to highlight to the public that Defra is failing us on this issue from farm to fork.


Badgers are about to be slaughtered in their thousands as a scapegoat resolution to stop the spread of

bTB in our herds. The real paradox is that the government has been harking on about the dangers of bTB to

farmers, slaughter house workers and consumers as one of many false excuses to justify a badger cull, yet

today they are exposed as selling infected meat straight into the food chain, not following the advice of the

Food Standards Agency re labelling or treating, not tracking the final destinations of the infected meat and

seemingly seeing no issue with then having the nerve to say badgers should be killed for the health of the

nation.


You would imagine there'd be extensive testing before deeming it fit for human consumption though, right?

No... alas not - it seems just a visual check suffices based on lesions seen, and even if the carcass has one

visible lesion it is still approved for sale as food. Yum.


In truth the risk to humans is low, but you can catch TB from eating raw or undercooked meat from TB

infected cattle. We feel that, especially following the horse meat scandal, consumers should be able to

make an informed choice - just like in the US, or in Germany, where clear labelling rules apply for infected

meat and cooking instructions state it should not be consumed in a raw undercooked state.


After all, as taxpayers and consumers we would reasonably expect that if the Food Standards Agency's

Microbiological Food Safety Committee recommend to the government that they reduce the risk to the

public of consuming TB meat by placing it in cold storage, taking culture tests to trace TB lesions not visible

to human eye, plus heat treating the meat to kill off all traces of TB before it enters the food chain, then they

should take note, and most of all - they should tell us.


We at Care for the Wild are fundamentally against the badger cull as we know it will not solve the issue -

we are instead advocating a combination of enhanced bio-security, stronger management of cattle

movements and a badger vaccination programme. Our voice is not a lone one though - all leading scientists

(including the government's own scientists that conducted a 10 year trial on badger culling), many farmers,

the majority of MPs, the vast majority of the public, and even leading vets all say that the culling of badgers

is pointless.


If you're thinking now there's even more reason to kill the badgers to eradicate the world of bTB, you

couldn't be further from the truth - it's called bovine TB for a reason. You could kill every single badger in the

country and you will still have bTB - killing an estimated 70% of them (as the cull plans to do) for an at best

16% reduction is ludicrous.


Kill the cull - it will give more time and more money for Defra to do some of their own internal culling, and

get their house in order.

 

About 350 people packed Dorchester's Corn Exchange to hear about the forthcoming badger cull.

The controlled shooting of badgers, to control the spread of bovine TB, is expected to begin in parts of Gloucestershire and

Somerset in June.

The cull will move to Dorset if it fails to go ahead in those counties.

At Friday's meeting, it was said that pro and anti-cull campaigners were fighting for the same thing - eradication of TB.

People who are against the cull, is encouraging farmers to take part in a badger vaccination programme to prevent further spread of the

disease.


 

Anne Brummer, CEO of Save Me, said: "We've had quite a few public meetings - all standing room only.

According to Defra, 34,897 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered between January and November 2012 because of TB, compared with

30,979 from January to November 2011.

Farming minister David Heath said: "The science is clear that culling will help to reduce bovine TB as one part of our overall approach to

eradicating this disease."

T
One should ask, "What happens to the cattle who are compulsorily slaughtered because of TB -  contrary to what you might think,

when they are slaughtered they are not just fed to dogs and cats, they are fed to humans after looking to see if any of the meat is

damaged.  Any parts of the cattle that does not have damaged meat is sold to the public.


The RSPCA, has launched a ppetition calling for a halt to the cull of the Badgers.

It has so far attracted more than 223,000 signatures and is due to be presented to Defra on Saturday 1 June.

Badgers do not give TV to cattle normally, it is the cows with TV who give it to the Badgers.

How does a cow give TV to a Badger?  By sneezing and dripping nose droppings onto piles of hay other cattle are feeding on, and during

the night, when the fields are quiet, the Badgers come out and walk through the piles of hay looking for grubs to eat, and they catch the

TB on the wet hay.

 

TB does not pass from animal to animal if the germs dry out - only when the germs are fresh and wet - right in the cow's hay.

Both Badgers and cows can be innoculated against TB, just like humans are.  The Government doesn't want to pay to have animals

inoculated - but it would be so simple to do.  TB vaccines are available in liquid form as well as in shots.  Badgers could be captured,

chipped and inoculated either by shots or by liquid in some manner.  Wouldn't it be cheaper to spend the money on inoculating the

Badgers as well as the cattle?  Is it cheaper to go around shooting them?

 

Wounded badger patrols set up in Gloucestershire

A member of Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting's wounded badger patrol

The group said its intention was "just to look for wounded badgers"


Hundreds of people have signed up for "wounded badger patrols" ahead of a planned cull in Gloucestershire.


Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) said it wanted to rescue badgers that were injured but not killed.

The cull, designed to reduce the spread of bovine TB, is expected to start on 1 June in the west of the county.


GABS said it did not want to sabotage the cull and warned volunteers not to touch injured badgers, which have an "extremely powerful

bite".

'Walk peacefully'

Liz Gaffer, from the group, said: "All we're asking people who are interested in the countryside and badgers to do is to walk peacefully

and legally as they would normally do in the countryside.

"Our intention is just to look for wounded badgers."

A Defra spokesman said: "We are taking every precaution to ensure the badger cull is carried out in a safe and humane way.

Badger

Up to 5,094 badgers can be killed in the two pilot areas in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire


"Culling will only be carried out by trained marksmen who have passed a government approved training course."


The cull will run over a six-week period anytime between 1 June and autumn.


It could see up to 5,094 badgers killed across the two pilot areas - west Somerset and west Gloucestershire.


Under the plans, badgers will be shot in the open using high-velocity rifles, without first being trapped in cages.


Farmers believe the cull will help prevent the spread of bovine TB among cattle.


Animal welfare and wildlife campaigners have opposed the cull, which will allow wild badgers to be shot by trained marksmen when the

animals venture out of their setts at night.

 

wounded badger logoPlease join the WOUNDED BADGER PATROL 

 


GABS INFO

GABS INFO

 

Campaigners seek badger no-cull zone on council land

Badger

Campaigners say culling badgers would make 'no significant contribution' to the reduction of TB


Campaigners against a badger cull are calling on local politicians to sign a pledge to rule out culling on council land.


The government has announced it intends to go ahead with a Gloucestershire cull from 1 June.


Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting is asking the parties contesting the county council election in May to make council land

a no-cull zone.


Labour and the Green Party have said candidates will agree to the pledge.


Liberal Democrat councillor Jeremy Hilton said the 2013 party manifesto already promised to review future farm tenancies to ensure that

the culling of badgers would not be permitted on county-owned farms.


Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting (GABS) has asked each party to sign up to two pledges to take forward if they are elected.


These are the immediate banning of badger culling on any Gloucestershire County Council land which is not tenanted and working to ban

badger culling on tenanted council land as tenancies are renewed.


'Pledge for change'


The campaign group is also asking politicians seek more effective alternatives to stop the spread of bovine TB.


GABS spokeswoman Jeanne Berry said: "We know that local people are overwhelmingly against a badger cull in the county and we are

asking Gloucestershire people to contact their council candidates to pledge for change.


"The county council elections in May are the first chance for people to have their say on this cull at the ballot box."


Tewkesbury Borough Council and the Forest of Dean District Council have already voted to reject the proposal to cull badgers on council

land.


Ministers want to hold a pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire and West Somerset to halt the spread of tuberculosis to cattle.


The RSPCA, which opposes the cull, said it wanted to help fund vaccination.

 


Owen Patterson - environment Minister
Owen Patterson - environment minister

Mr Paterson told journalists in New Zealand that there was "massive complacency" in the UK over the issue and insisted

 "The world isn't like The Wind in the Willows".


The Government is still pushing ahead with plans for a pilot badger cull in Gloucestershire and Somerset this summer to stop the

spread of Bovine TB.


Many farmers in Cornwall blighted by Bovine TB have welcomed the cull but campaigners say it will not solve the problem.


Mr Paterson confirmed the cull at the National Farmers Union (NFU) annual conference.

He also announced a reserve pilot will also be prepared in Dorset.

Under the plans, badgers will be shot in the open without first being trapped in cages, which is current practice.

'£1bn' cost

"I am determined that there are no further delays this year," Mr Paterson said.

"That is why we have taken the sensible step with the farming industry to elect a reserve area that can be called upon should

 anything happen to prevent culling in Somerset or Gloucester."


Mr Paterson added that tackling the spread of bovine TB had cost £500m in the past 10 years and that figure could rise to £1bn if

action was not taken.


The authorisation from Natural England states that culling can take place from 1 June and will last for six weeks. It will be repeated

annually for four years.


The pilot will be independently checked to ensure it is removing enough badgers in a humane way, the Department for Environment,


Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.


Labour's shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, said scientists had branded the cull an "untested and risky approach" while more

than 150,000 members of the public had signed a petition opposing it.


She said: "As incompetent Defra ministers stagger from one crisis to the next, the policing costs, paid by the taxpayer, will balloon to £4m

while bovine TB will increase in the next two years as the shooting displaces badgers.


'Scandalous waste'


"Ministers should listen to the public and the scientists and drop this cull before any more public money is wasted."


But a Defra spokesman said a cull "carried out in the right way can make a meaningful contribution" to controlling TB.


NFU president Peter Kendall also backed the cull and called for a full roll-out in 2014.


He described the 35,000 cattle that had to be slaughtered because of the disease as a "scandalous waste".


(Ummmm - the meat was sold to the public - where is the waste?)


But Gavin Grant, the RSPCA chief executive, claimed studies into a cull found it would not have a major impact on the spread of TB.


"We obviously need to do something but we have to do the right thing, the cull is wrong. So if not culling, then what? The answer is

vaccination," he said.


"The RSPCA, working with others has put together a costed, practical, working programme to vaccinate the badgers of the two pilot cull

zones.


"We're ready to put our effort behind a funded programme if the government will match it. We'll also try and put the people on the ground

to make sure it goes ahead."



When it comes to a cull of badgers, it seems no amount of science will resolve the arguments.


A researcher who studied their role in popular culture has warned that politicians have not grasped the true nature of the cull controversy.


Dr Angela Cassidy from Imperial College London researched discourse on badgers from the end of the 18th Century.


She told BBC News that they have consistently divided opinion, with farmers wanting rid of them and animal lovers seeking to

protect them.


Dr Cassidy said that bombarding people with science about TB in the animals would fail, as the debate was really about

emotions and values.


"The sides have a very different understanding of what the countryside is for and how we should treat animals," she said.


"That's why I think one of the reasons why the focus on the evidence isn't getting us that far is because it can be interpreted in

different ways and what we have to acknowledge is that there are different values going on, and this is a very political debate."


Pest or pet?


A Defra source told BBC News that some civil servants working on the badger issue acknowledged that people had very

different views of whether farmers had a right to control badgers, or whether wildlife was in some way "owned" by everyone.

 

Dr Cassidy discovered a divide stretching more than 200 years in the columns of The Times.


"Every so often I found these little flurries of correspondence between people arguing whether badgers were pests or likeable

animals.


This sort of thread pops up every 20 or 30 years.


"There's a link consistently about how people were talking about badgers then and now. When people were talking about liking

badgers they would talk about them being clean domestic animals, very houseproud and family-oriented.


"People not liking badgers talked about them being dirty and disruptive. It's the same now."


She says the defining characterisation of the animals in the 20th Century was framed by Kenneth Graham's classic The Wind in

the Willows with its gruff, wise, brave Badger.


The book was last made into a movie in 2006 and Amanda Craig, children's book critic for The Times, told BBC News that it has

been massively influential for generations.


'Bunny eaters'


"Badger is the ultimate moral authority, portrayed as a rough but very kindly Tory gentleman. He has this speech about how

badgers always endure - people come and go," says Ms Craig.


"You think of Badger a bit like an ideal father - someone who's going to protect you; a great comfort figure as well as an

authority figure.


"You are likely to encounter Wind in the Willows somewhere between four and eight years old, so these creations are really

important and influential - they really affect how we feel and see animals."


Dr Cassidy said a rare counter-example exists in Beatrix Potter's Tale of Mr Tod, in which Brock the badger plans to eat

Benjamin Bunny's bunnies (bunny-eating is a genuine badger trait, as Potter - a countrywoman - would have known).


"This stands out because it's the only fictional portrayal I could find that has much in common with the older narrative about

badgers as vermin which goes back to Tudor times," she said.


The most recent depictions have mostly been comic portrayals in cartoons, computer games and music videos like the 10-hour

Badger Song, reputedly appreciated by students under the influence of substances.


The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has accused people opposed to the cull of being seized by a "Wind in the Willows

sentimentality".


But Dr Cassidy said it would be a mistake to confuse sentimentality with values.


"We have to take note of these cultural influences," said Dr Cassidy, whose research was funded by Nerc, the BBSRC. and the


Rural Economy and Land Use Programme, which is itself part-funded by Defra.


"Both sides in the... debate use scientific argument to make the other side look bad. The values debate and the science are inextricably

linked."

 

NOTE:  BADGERS TO NOT EAT BUNNY RABBITS UNLESS THEY ARE STARVING AND FIND NEWBORN BUNNIES THAT ARE THE

SAME SIZE AS SLUGS.  OTHERWISE, THEY ARE NOT MEAT EATERS  -AND NEVER EAT DEAD MEAT AT ALL, MUCH LESS MEAT

THAT IS RUNNING ALONGSIDE OR IN FRONT OF THEM.  THEY EAT ONLY WORMS AND SLUGS, AND BUGS.

 

PROTEST THE CULLING OF BADGERS

 

 

 

BOVINE TB FACTS

 

Here are some key facts and figures surrounding the debate over controversial plans for a badger cull to tackle bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Figures come from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

 

A group of professors from leading universities and zoological institutions across the UK have urged the Government to reconsider

controversial plans for a badger cull to tackle bovine TB.


More than 30 of the UK's leading animal disease experts, including the president of the Zoological Society of London, Professor Sir

Patrick Bateson, and professors from Oxbridge and Imperial College London, have written a letter to the Observer which argues culling

badgers could increase the problem of TB in cattle.


The signatories also include Professor Lord Krebs, a world expert in zoology, who originally commissioned research into whether culling

badgers will stop the animals spreading cattle disease.


The letter states: "The Government's TB-control policy for England includes licensing farmers to cull badgers. As scientists with expertise

in managing wildlife and wildlife diseases, we believe the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing cattle

TB rather than reducing it.


"Even if such increases do not materialise, the Government predicts only limited benefits, insufficient to offset the costs for either farmers

or taxpayers.


"Unfortunately, the imminent pilot culls are too small and too short term to measure the impacts of licensed culling on cattle TB before a

wider roll-out of the approach.

 

"The necessarily stringent licensing conditions mean that many TB-affected areas of England will remain ineligible for such culling. We are

concerned that badger culling risks becoming a costly distraction from nationwide TB control."


The group of scientists say they believe that culling badgers "is very unlikely to contribute to TB eradication" and they "urge the

Government to reconsider its strategy".


On Friday David Heath, minister of state for agriculture and food, said the badger cull would be a "contribution towards bearing down on

the disease".


Mr Heath said: "The evidence that we have, the scientific support we have, suggests that a cull of the sort that we are proposing would be

a contribution towards bearing down on the disease.


"It's not the answer in itself, there are lots of other things that we have to do - we have to continually improve bio-security, we have to

continually make sure that we reduce cattle-to-cattle infection - but as part of a tool box of things that we can do, this is certainly an

effective part."


Mr Heath said 26,000 cattle were slaughtered last year and the pilot culls in the chosen areas of west Somerset and Gloucestershire

would potentially see 500 to 800 badgers killed each year in each of those areas.


He said the culls would "almost certainly" take place before the end of the year and expressed his support for a possible future vaccination

programme.


"I am very clear that if we had a vaccination programme which could work in the circumstances which we have, we would take it. But the

fact is we only have a badger inoculation at the moment where badgers actually have to be caught, trapped and then released, and that

has to be done every year, which I think is not practicable over a wide area," he said.

 

Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease, which can affect most warm-blooded animals, including man. Cattle, goats and pigs are

the domestic livestock most susceptible to infection, while horses are relatively resistant. The disease is prevented and controlled in most

developed countries by regulations, due to its ability to infect humans and cause significant livestock production losses. This fact sheet has

quite detailed information on bovine TB. 


Bovine TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis, and it probably has been causing disease in cattle even before they were

domesticated. Another bacteria within this family, Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the cause of what is commonly called human

tuberculosis. M. tuberculosis is a species more adapted to humans and may have initially developed from a strain of M. bovis, many

thousands of years ago, that humans were exposed to after they started herding cattle.


The regulatory efforts for controlling TB in Canadian domestic livestock are under the federal jurisdiction of the Canadian Food Inspection

Agency (CFIA). It is one of the "Reportable" diseases under their Health of Animals Act, making it an offense not to report the disease to

CFIA if it is suspected or identified in an animal. Once confirmed, CFIA initiates and manages a strict testing and eradication program. The

program includes the destruction of all infected animals as well as all the susceptible animals in contact with the diseased animals.



Before control programs were developed in Canada, TB was a common disease. Due to the scope of the problem many thought the

programs would fail. With the hard work and co-operation of many people, including livestock producers and veterinarians, the programs,

however, have been effective. For further information on regulatory efforts please see TB Time Line in Canada and Manitoba on the

Manitoba Agriculture,  Food and Rural Initiatives website.


Signs of Bovine TB


Bovine TB is usually a very slow disease to develop. Infected animals may not show any outward signs of illness, but many eventually

exhibit weight loss and a gradual decline in general health. TB lesions may be found in any organ or body cavity of diseased animals. What

signs an animal shows may depend on what organs are most affected. If the lungs are affected there may be a chronic intermittent cough

and labored breathing. The lesions usually show up as tubercles (nodules or knobby swellings) which is how tuberculosis received its

name.


In the early stages the lesions may be hard to find while in later stages they are easier to detect and often found in the lungs and lymph

nodes in the chest, along the digestive tract, and within the head and upper neck. Lymph nodes are roundish bodies that help fight

infection by supplying a type of white blood cell (lymphocytes) and filtering lymph fluid for disease. If one of these lymph nodes is near the

surface of the body, such as around the head, it may show up as a firm swelling.


The tubercles are caused by the body trying to wall off the infection. They may be firm and tannish and sometimes gritty; in some types of

animals such as deer the tubercles are softer and look like more typical abscesses with a creamy center.


The site of initial infection usually does not heal and the disease slowly progresses by bacteria spreading through the blood and lymph.


How Long Does Bovine TB Last in the Environment?

The bacteria that causes bovine TB is harmed by direct sunlight, high temperatures and dry conditions. Out in the field on a dry summer's

day, in direct sunlight, it may last only a few days or less. If the bacteria is within a patty of manure in hot dry conditions, however, it is

more protected and could last approximately a week. If the bacteria get into a stagnant pool of water it could last approximately 18 days.

If it gets dropped onto a bale in the middle of winter it could last several months.


Experimentally under hot conditions, M. bovis was isolated for up to 4 weeks from shaded soil but could not be re-isolated from soil in

direct sunlight. Other reports on the length of survival of M. bovis vary from 18-332 days at temperatures ranging from 12-240C (54-750

F). Under laboratory conditions, M. bovis has been isolated for up to 8 weeks from various feeds kept at 240C (750 F) and 14 weeks from

various feeds kept at 00C (320 F). Under field conditions, however, it is generally difficult to isolate M. bovis from pastures grazed by

animals known to be infected with bovine TB.


Unfortunately these studies often do not reflect how infective contaminated material is for animals. The actual length of time the bacteria

can be isolated is longer then the material is infective for animals. This is because only a few bacteria need to be present to isolate the

organism while it usually takes many thousands of bacteria to infect an animal by ingestion.


How Bovine TB is Spread Between Animals

Bovine TB is not a highly infectious disease. Spread usually requires frequent and extended exposure. The greatest risk of spread is

through respiration (breathing). Invisible droplets (aerosols) containing TB bacteria may be exhaled or coughed out by infected animals

and then inhaled by other animals including humans. Animals who are in close contact with infected animals, especially within confined

areas such as barns, are at greatest risk for contracting TB. This is why in the early days, dairy TB was more of problem then beef TB.


Ingesting water or feed that has been contaminated with excretions (saliva, manure, etc) or discharges from infected animals can also

transmit the disease. This is more difficult to do, however, as the digestive tract has more defense mechanisms and has a thicker lining

then the airways. It may take approximately 5,000 to 10,000 times more M. bovis bacteria to infect an animal by ingestion then it does by

respiration. Animals and humans can also get bovine TB from drinking unpasteurized milk from infected cows or consuming raw

undercooked meat from infected animals.


Where TB is present in wild deer and elk, spillover into domestic livestock is thought to occur primarily during periods of cooler moister

weather at concentrated sites of feeding (hay stacks, round bales, etc) or possibly at stagnant pools. Normal grazing at pasture and free

flowing water is not thought to pose a significant risk.


How is Bovine TB Diagnosed?


Animals can be diagnosed after death when suspicious changes such as tubercles, abscesses and/or enlarged lymph nodes are found

that suggest TB may be present. Samples of the lesions are taken and tested at veterinary diagnostic laboratories to determine if TB is

present. All slaughtered cattle in Canadian federally inspected plants (>95% of cattle) are examined for this disease and it is the major

method for surveillance in the country.


Animals can also be diagnosed before death by taking biopsies and culturing suspicious lesions. Most commonly however they are tested

by measuring their immune response to the bacteria. This is done in Canada by injecting a small amount of purified killed TB bacteria

under the skin of the tail fold (caudal fold test or CFT) and checking the site after 72 hours for any swelling. If swelling does occur the

animal is labeled "suspicious", the herd is put under quarantine and further tests are done on the animal to determine if it is infected. For

more information on testing see the following websites:


There are a few drawbacks with the CFT test. A small number of infected cattle in the very early or late stages of the disease and cows

that have recently calved may test negative. Also approximately 5-7% of uninfected cattle will falsely test suspicious for TB and require

further testing.


More accurate and faster tests for TB are being investigated and may be available in a few years or less.



How Can I Prevent Bovine TB from Infecting My Livestock?


There are no effective vaccines to prevent the infection or economical medications to treat livestock after they become infected.


In general, cattle brought onto the farm should come from herds established as free from TB. This can be done by bringing in animals only

from a recognized monitored TB free herd or from animals that have only been in "TB free" status areas. Individual TB testing of cattle can

be done before they are introduced into the herd but results are not as accurate as on whole herd tests.


Sick animals should be separated from healthy ones. If you have an animal that does not respond to routine treatments you should contact

your veterinarian. If an animal dies it should be examined by a veterinarian if the cause is uncertain. As TB is a "Reportable" disease in

Canada, the local CFIA district office must be notified by the owner, veterinarian, transporter or other person in charge of the animal when

TB is suspected.


If you live in an area where bovine tuberculosis has been found in wild elk and deer, steps to limit direct livestock-to-elk/deer contact

include: · Moving harvested forage or other feed into storage sites before winter · Putting barrier fencing around feed storage sites and

feeding areas · Preventing access to stagnant water sources frequented by wild elk and deer


Steps should also be taken to decrease and eliminate the spread of TB between deer and elk and include: · Banning supplemental feeding

of deer and elk including its use for recreational and hunting purposes · Maintaining adequate natural habitat for wild elk and deer ·

Maintaining wild elk and deer populations at levels that should limit spread when TB has been diagnosed in the wild



How Can I Avoid Becoming Infected by Bovine TB Myself?


Humans can reduce their personal risk by drinking only pasteurized milk and buying meat that has been federally inspected (e.g.

supermarkets).


Meat from wild deer and elk and from on-farm slaughter of livestock should only be used if the animal is healthy, in good condition, and

has no changes that would make one suspect disease was present.


High temperatures will kill M. bovis; therefore cooking will destroy the organism. Please remember, in general, it is recommended meat

should be well cooked for a number of health reasons.


When animals are treated for any disease and after animals are slaughtered (including wild), hands and exposed clothing should be well

washed. Re-usable materials should be disinfected.


If exposure to bovine TB may have occurred, contact your physician.


Links:


Prepared by:

S. Copeland
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives

 

Bovine TB in the UK, England, Ireland, Wales and New Zealand

www.bovinetb.info/

Public Health England do not collect data on the number of people in England .... Gassing of badger setts took place between 1975 and 1982. ... Cement, 133.71 ...

 

Residents fear for their homes as giant badgers dig up their ...

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120345/Residents-fear-homes-giant-badgers-dig-...

Mar 26, 2012 ... 'We will also look to speak to Natural England to get advice on the most appropriate way forward.' Badgers and their setts are protected under the 1992 Protection of ... Get a dachshund - they were orginaly bred to hunt badgers which is ... the holes with concrete / barbed wire / a flashing light etc and they'll ...

 

Rural workers' livelihoods are being devastated by TB. Labour should come to their defence.

"Dave" is not his real name. He’s too scared to tell me that. He’s been a farmer in Devon for over fifty years. He loves animals

and knows everything about cows. He knows their moods, their temperaments, their individual identities. His family works

fourteen hours a day seven days a week to serve and look after their dairy herd of 1,000, hand feeding them when they’re sick

and nursing them through birth. It’s work of blood and sweat. He doesn’t shoot badgers, but since the government’s new trials

started he’s been scared his family farm might be a target for animal rights activists.


"If I speak to you it will have to be anonymous because we’re terrified to speak up…." He says, "We’re attacked so easily right

out here. It’s very isolated in the countryside and no dairy farmer can afford extra security right now."


This autumn a new controversy has split British politics. It’s the biggest rural-urban divide since fox hunting. To deal with the huge

number of cattle being infected with TB, the government is piloting badger culls. Sites in the south west of the country will be

allowed to shoot these cute little black and white creatures on the grounds that they are spreading this devastating infection that

is killing cattle and crippling farmers. If the pilots are accepted and rolled out, some 100,000 badgers could be killed.


Parliament is set to debate the pilots on Thursday. To date, the argument has divided neatly along left and right lines. The new

Tory environment secretary, Owen Paterson, says that it’s "sad sentimentality" to worry about badgers when so much damage

is being done to the rural economy. On the other side, shadow environment minister for Labour, Mary Creagh, has called on the

government to abandon the trial, dismissing it as a "shot in the dark". Brian May isn’t happy and the radical left is advocating

the direct action that keeps farmers awake at night . As a self-declared lefty, I know where my team stands. But I disagree - I

think our values might be better served supporting farmers.


My worry is this. The left has always been the party of cities and urban areas, growing as it did out of the trade union movement.

It has never had enough to say to rural workers, as I’ve argued before. I’m worried that the countryside could be reduced to a

play park for urbanites. I’m concerned that it will become a place to protect fauna and fauna, rather than to cultivate jobs and

livelihoods. A place to visit at weekends, rather than strive through the weekdays. The Labour Party was supposed to be about

labour – the clue is in the name – but we seem to be prioritising the concerns of people without a working connection to the land.

How can Ed Miliband talk about being "one nation", when we have so little to offer these rural workers?


My friends say they are not against farmers, they just don’t believe there is any evidence that culling works. The evidence from

the Kreb trial – the most thorough and widely quoted research - demonstrated that culling could result in a 16 per cent reduction

in TB over nine years. It’s true that the methods used for the current pilots are slightly different – badgers are being shot

outright, rather than caught in cages - and there was evidence that TB could be spread further unless hard boundaries are put in

place. We can’t dismiss those concerns, but surely if the evidence is divided, the answer is more trials, not a complete lock

down?


More research is urgent, because both sides agree that TB is devastating the countryside. We know that it has resulted in some

34,000 cattle being sent to the slaughter last year alone. That figure is worth reading again because it’s almost one death every

fifteen minutes. We know that it has cost us as a country some £500 million over ten years. We know that something has to be

done.

 

NOTE: KEEP IN MIND THAT THE SLAUGHTERED CATTLE ARE FED TO THE PUBLIC.  THE FARMERS NOT ONLY GET

90% OF THEIR NORMAL SLAUGHTER FEE BUT THEY ALSO GET COMPENSATED BY THEIR INSURANCE COMPANY, SO

THEY GET ALMOST TWICE THE NORMAL FEES AS THEY NORMALLY WOULD BY SENDING THEIR CATTLE TO

SLAUGHTER.


Farmers are paying for this pilot themselves because they say past experience shows that it works. When David started farming

fifty years ago, he used to shoot badgers, and his farm suffered no TB. When EU regulations made badgers a protected

species, he stopped culling out of respect for the law. Now there are badger sets everywhere and regular cases of TB are

driving them under. This picture has been replicated at a national level. In 1998 less than 6,000 cows were culled for TB, now

we’ve had 21,512 in the first half of this year alone.


"We don’t want to kill all badgers," says Dave, "It’s only when their numbers get out of control that they start causing infections.

Because they have no natural predators, it’s up to us to keep the numbers down or they take over."


Working so closely with infected animals means that Dave’s son-in-law came down with TB himself. His family stood by as he lay

in bed rapidly losing weight and coughing, but they still want to keep going.


"My family wish to carry on farming," says Dave, “My children have been to college and trained to do it. They love it and their

children love it. It’s in your blood. There are very few other occupations open to you around here in your 40s."


Animal rights groups and charities say that the answer is vaccines and increased biosecurity. But there is no credible vaccine for

cows, and the vaccine for badgers is extraordinarily difficult to implement. The NFU reports that you have to catch each badger in

a cage, and then vaccinate them once every year for four years for it to be effective. As for biosecurity, the idea that farmers

have enough money to invest in initiatives like full scale separate housing is naïve – and I’m not entirely sure that ending free

range farming is desirable anyway.


It’s difficult to explain how difficult life in the countryside already is. Back in Devon, one of Dave’s neighbours has recently gone

out of business. The price of milk paid to farmers has been slashed by 4p a litre this year, and supermarkets continue to sell

milk at barely the cost of production. It’s been too damp to graze outside, so fodder supplies have been used up and the price of

grain is biting. We’ve lost 40 per cent of our diary farms over the last ten years and TB is pushing more over the brink. And all

the left is talking about, is the badgers.U


Update
: After this article was published, I was contacted by Labour's environment team, who wanted to highlight the work they

have been doing for rural communities. In particular, they recently pushed for a parliamentary debate about the government’s

decision to abolish wage protection for 152,000 low-paid farm workers, something they say will take £240 million out of rural

workers pockets over the next ten years. They say they have also supported dairy farmers' calls for more transparent contracts,

and tabled amendments in the Lords calling for the Supermarket Ombudsman's powers to be strengthened. They say they have

also highlighted how long-term youth unemployment has gone up faster in rural areas compared to cities in the first two years of

this government. Finally, they wanted to point out that this BBC poll found that opposition to the badger cull was fairly similar in

rural and urban communities.

 

By Rowenna Davis Published 19 October 2012 9:16

 

What is bovine TB?

Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is a chronic bacterial disease of cattle, found worldwide. The causative organism

(Mycobacterium bovis) can also infect humans, particularly through drinking milk from infected cows. In most

countries pasteurisation of milk, coupled with close inspection of cattle carcases at slaughterhouses, has eliminated

transmission to humans.  

Most European and some Latin American countries claim to have

successfully controlled or eradicated bovine TB in the cattle

population through a 'test and cull' strategy.


Bovine TB is diagnosed with either the tuberculin skin test, or by

the gamma interferon blood test. Neither test can be relied upon

to detect all infections, and both give some false positives.

 
Cull:
 To remove rejected members or parts from (a herd, for example).

Definition by the Free Online Dictionary 


Movement restrictions are imposed on herds which have a reactor, and reactors and animals in close contact with

the reactor are isolated from the rest of the herd and removed to slaughter. Affected herds are re-tested

periodically and restriction is only lifted after the herd has one or two clear tests. Diagnosis is confirmed (or

otherwise) post mortem by laboratory techniques.

Jersey cattle at the milking yard on an East Sussex farm
(Photo: InfluentialPoints under the CC 3.0 Unported License, users must credit InfluentialPoints.com)

Jersey cattle at the milking yard

 
In a few countries 'test and cull' has failed

to 'eradicate' the disease in cattle. This

has been ascribed to the the involvement

of a wildlife reservoir: white tailed deer in

the USA, possums in New Zealand and

badgers in Ireland and Great Britain.


These countries have therefore included

wildlife culls in an attempt to eliminate the

disease, but with varying degrees of

success.

 
Permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts.

Definition by Dowdle (1999) 

Note: this term is frequently misused to apply only within a specified geographic area - which is correctly termed disease elimination.


Possibly the least successful attempts have been made in Great Britain, where badger culling as become a highly

contentious issue which arouses passions on all sides.


  • Most farmers believe badgers are the major source of bovine TB outbreaks in cattle, and want a badger cull,

    especially in areas where disease incidence is high.


  • Many wildlife experts oppose such a cull arguing that it may make the problem worse and is anyway

    uneconomic.


  • Opinion polls also suggest most of the public are strongly opposed to a cull.
 

What is the history of Britain's attempt to 'eradicate' the disease?


Efforts have been made to eliminate the disease in UK since 1935 when voluntary tuberculin testing and culling of

cattle was introduced. A compulsory testing programme began in the 1950s.


  • Areas were declared to be attested after all animals with a positive tuberculin skin test  reaction (so-

    called reactors) had been removed for slaughter, and two successive tests of each animal had shown that all

    herds in the area were TB free.

By 1960, the whole of the UK had been declared

attested. The disease had not been eliminated, but it

had been effectively controlled - yearly herd incidence

had been reduced to about 2%. A continuing cattle

testing and cull programme further reduced this to well

below 1% in most of Great Britain, but in south-west

England it appeared to level off at about 1.5%.
 
Control:
 The reduction of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity or mortality to a locally acceptable level as a result of deliberate efforts; continued intervention measures are required to maintain the reduction.

Definition by Dowdle (1999) 


The UK Ministry of Agriculture concluded in 1973 that this was because wild badgers were providing a reservoir of

infection. Since the policy in Britain was (and still is) to 'eradicate' rather than control animal diseases, the

government embarked on a badger cull policy that was to extend on-and-off to the present time. The initial removal

method was to permit affected farmers to kill (all) badgers on their own farms by shooting (the method to which the

UK government now proposes we return).


Concern about the welfare implications of these methods led to the government taking over control operations.

Once infection in cattle had been attributed to badgers, populations were sampled up to one kilometre from the farm

boundary to identify infection status. Setts (dens) of infected social groups, and other social groups in contact with

them, were then gassed with hydrogen cyanide.


Gassing operations began in August 1975. These measures appeared to be successful in further reducing the cattle

TB infection rate, with prevalence in 1979 in the south-west dropping to 0.5%, and the rest of the country to 0.1%.

However, from 1980 the number of herd breakdowns started to increase again in the south-west, whilst temporarily

remaining fairly stable at around 0.1% in the rest of the country.


Figure reproduced here for critical appraisal is from  Krebs (1997)
 

Bovine TB breakdowns from 1962 to 1996.

Between 1982 and 1985, a clean ring strategy was introduced to replace the gassing strategy. Under this strategy

social groups were identified by bait marking - an improved method to identify groups since one group can use

several different setts. Those groups, found on laboratory examination to be infected, were culled, extending out to

successive social groups until a clean ring of uninfected social groups was found. During this period, the proportion

of affected herds slowly increased in the south-west (where most of the culling was going on), but remained steady

elsewhere.


In 1986 the situation was reviewed by the Dunnet Committee and the so-called interim strategy was introduced.

This was intended to offer a means of controlling badgers on infected farms, pending the development of the live

test, when only infected badgers would be killed (in other words true culling rather than removal of all badgers). All

badgers on the breakdown farm were removed by cage-trapping and shooting, but no removal was carried out on

neighbouring farms. This new strategy failed to stop the increase and the proportion of herd breakdowns increased

five fold in the south-west, to reach about 2.5% by the mid 1990s. In the rest of the country asimilar increase

started and by 1996 had reached 0.6%.

The obvious question to ask is why did a method (cattle test and culling

only) that had worked so well up to 1975 (and in many other European

countries) become so inneffective post-1980, even when used in conjunction

with badger culling.

 

What can we learn from these descriptive data?

One should be able to learn something about how to control bovine TB from examining these time trend data - but

there are two very major constraints on this.


  • Firstly just because B follows A does not necessarily mean B is caused by A. (Wakefield  made the disastrous

    error of concluding that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism in children because the

    MMR vaccine is given at around 12-15 months of age and autism in a child tends to become evident at

    about 18-19 months.) Regarding badgers and bovine TB, we could argue that the proportion of cattle infected

    dropped sharply in 1975 because killing of badgers was allowed. But we could similarly argue that the steady

    increase in proportion of TB infected cattle from 1980 onwards was a result of culling badgers.

  • The second constraint is that this sort of routinely collected data is often of very poor quality. If we are to

    understand what is going on, we need measures of the population sizes and proportion infected for both cattle

    and badgers.

    • The cattle data are relatively good, but even here the proportion infected with bovine TB only applies to herds, not to individual cattle. In addition the test is certainly not 100% accurate  and we may be missing low grade infections.
    • There is much less information available on badger population sizes. Cresswell et al. (1990)  surveyed 2455 1-km squares throughout Britain for badger setts and signs of badger activity, and estimated (making some very dubious assumptions) that the overall population of badgers in the UK was about 250,000. Wilson et al. (1997)  did a repeat survey mostly of the same squares which suggested that the density of badger setts had increased significantly in two areas in south-west England and the west midlands.

    • On badger infection rate, a small study in 1979 on just two farms that had recently experienced disease outbreaks, revealed very different prevalences in badgers of 11.1% and and 31.6% (Barrow & Gallager, 1981   ). However, sample sizes were very small. Samples obtained during cull operations were similarly small and unrepresentative. Once the government was involved in gassing, samples became much larger, but remained unrepresentative. Samples from road accidents were regarded as the least biased, but sick badgers may well be more likely to get killed than healthy badgers.

      A dead badger (Meles meles) by the side of the road
      (Photo: InfluentialPoints under the CC 3.0 Unported License, users must credit InfluentialPoints.com)

      A dead badger killed in a road accident or poisoned

      The only reliable data on badger infection rate were from very restricted areas. For example Delahay et al.

      (2000) 
      found that prevalence from 1982 to 1996 varied between 10 - 17% in one site in south-west

      England. There was some evidence of an increase in prevalence in the late 1980s, but temporal trends in

      disease were not synchronized amongst neighbouring groups. By the time the Krebs trial was initiated

      (1988-2002), average prevalence in badgers in the ten trial areas was 11.3%, although it varied between

      areas from 1.6% to 37.2%. (Bourne, 2007a  ).

In other words we know that cattle infection rate reached its lowest level in

1979 - but why it then increased again despite all the control measures is

unclear. Badger numbers may have increased over the period, but there are

insufficient data to draw any conclusions about trends in badger infection

rates.
 

The turn to (and away from) science

As the number of disease outbreaks in cattle continued to climb, something clearly had to be done - but what? In

1996 the then Conservative government set up an independent scientific review under the chairmanship of Professor

John Krebs to review and make recommendations on government policy on badgers and bovine tuberculosis. Krebs
(1997)
  concluded that it was not possible to state quantitatively what contribution badgers made to cattle

infection, because the relevant data had not been collected. The main recommendation was to set up a randomized

trial to directly compare the effects of three 'treatments' on the number of disease outbreaks. Those treatments

were:


  1. proactive
    badger removal irrespective of whether there were cattle infections or not,

  2. reactive
    culling where culls were only carried out when tuberculosis was found in the cattle (the current policy at

    that time), and

  3.   no
    badger culling.
It was recommended that in both reactive and proactive removal areas there should be "total removal of complete

badger social groups" from the specified areas (that is extermination). All three treatments included regular cattle

testing, and culling of infected cattle. An Independent Scientific Group (ISG) led by Professor Bourne was set up to

oversee the trial.


    Despite serious problems in its execution (see below), the trial was eventually completed in 2005, albeit without

    total removal of badgers from culling areas. Donnelly et al. (2007)   concluded from the trial that badger culling

    was only likely to be beneficial if conducted systematically over large areas, and sustained over several years.

    Reactive culling had overall detrimental effects because of the perturbation effect on badgers where they

    dispersed and spread the infection outside the original affected area. The ISG in their final report to

    government (Bourne et al., 2007a   ) concluded that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to bovine

    TB control in Britain, and that some policies under consideration (those similar to reactive culling) were likely to

    make matters worse rather than better.


    The Chief Scientific Adviser (King, 2007  ) did not accept these conclusions, in particular the negative effects of

    reactive culling. He instead stated that removal of badgers should take place alongside the continued

    application of controls on cattle. The ISG responded (Bourne et al., 2007b   ) that King's remit from government

    did not include economic [and] practical issues, which were absolutely critical in determining whether culling

    would reduce or increase the incidence of bovine TB. In addition King's report contained fundamental flaws in

    interpretation of the data. Hence the ISG maintained its previous position.


Eventually a common position was cobbled together (House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee,
2007
  ) based on the argument that Sir David King's group of experts did not include the practicalities or costs of

culling in its considerations. The government of the time then accepted that culling would not be helpful (House of

Commons statement by Hillary Benn (2008)
  ) and provided increased funding to a research programme to develop a

vaccination approach, including a series of vaccine trials.


The coalition government which took power in 2009 also proposed a 'science-led' policy, but its first move was to

scrap all but one of the planned Badger Vaccine Deployment trials (DEFRA, 2010a  ). The following year the

recommendations made by the ISG following the Krebs trial were abandoned (House of Commons statement by

Caroline Spelman, 2011
  ) and it was decided to reintroduce badger culls, this time by free-shooting badgers as they

emerge from their setts in the evening. Cost issues were settled (supposedly) by farmers and landowners having to

pay for the cull themselves.


Without going into the whole sorry story in any more detail, we step back a little to look at the evidence. First we

ask how close is the association between infection in cattle and badgers. Then we ask how transmission each way

occurs. Lastly we ask whether reducing the number of badgers does actually reduce disease in cattle.


If at this stage, you loose interest and say 'well its obvious isn't it' - consider

the disturbing case of hormone replacement therapy (HRT):

  • By 2001 millions of women in Europe and America were taking HRT,

    based on results from over 30 observational studies that suggested

    a 44% reduction in coronary heart disease.


  • Yet within a few years a large-scale randomized trial demonstrated

    that, far from reducing the risk of heart disease, HRT slightly increased

    the risk (Petitti, 2004   ).

  • When looking at descriptive and observational studies Petiti concluded:

    1. Do not turn a blind eye to contradiction.

    2. Do not be seduced by mechanism.

    3. Suspend belief.

    4. Maintain scepticism.
 

How close is the association between infection in cattle and badgers?

Observing A is spatially associated with B does not, of

itself, prove A causes B, any more than observing that A

preceeds B.


Nevertheless, if badgers are the primary source of bovine

TB in cattle (or vice versa) their infection should be

strongly and positively associated.

 
Since the fallacy is commonplace, a concrete example may help:

Observing the number of churches in UK cities is associated or correlated with the number of bars does not imply one causes the other.

  1.  Past evidence was reviewed by Krebs (1997).  

    • Bovine TB infections in both badgers and cattle are highly clustered, and these regional clusters

      (sometimes termed hotspots) are geographically associated in the two species.

    • Another line of evidence is that the prevalence of bovine TB infection among badgers culled following

      bovine TB outbreaks in cattle is higher than among those killed in road traffic accidents.

    • Results from Northern Ireland also suggested there was a positive association between the the number of

      active main setts and the risk of a bovine TB breakdown.
  2. From these and other data, Krebs concluded that there was strong evidence for an association between bovine

    TB in badgers and cattle, but noted that there were many problems with how the data had been gathered, and

    recommended that more data be collected to properly assess the risk.

  3.  More recent evidence has been mostly obtained via the randomized trial (described below). Woodroffe et al.

    (2005)
      looked at nearest neighbour distances between infected and uninfected badgers and cattle. This d

    emonstrated that smaller scale patterns of infection in the two species were spatially correlated, and also that

    there were close linkages in the distribution of M. bovis strain types in the two species. Jenkins et al. (2007) 

    investigated the impact of badger culling on the spatial distribution of bovine TB infection in badger and cattle

    populations. Bovine TB infection was significantly clustered within badger populations, but clustering was

    reduced when culls were repeated across wide areas. There was significant spatial association between

    bovine TB infections in badgers and cattle herds across successive culls, but this became non-significant when

    the initial observation was excluded. These patterns are consistent with the idea that badgers are less territorial

    and range more widely in culled areas, allowing disease transmission to occur over greater distances.

    Continued clustering of bovine TB infection in cattle, even where badgers were repeatedly culled over wide

    areas, was thought to reflect cattle-to-cattle transmission.

  4.  Probably the best information available on this is from Hone & Donnelly (2008)  and Donnelly & Hone (2010). 

    They reported that they had analysed data from the 10 sites randomly selected to be proactive culling sites in

    the UK Randomized Badger Culling Trial. The authors stressed that the data were observational (not

    experimental) with the badger data only from the initial cull and the cattle TB incidence data for the year prior to

    the cull. They developed a priori two-host mathematical models of relationships between bovine TB infection in

    cattle and badger populations, and then evaluated the predictions of such models relative to the data.


    Their model prediction with the most support (based on Akaike's Information criterion) was a positive linear

    relationship through the origin between the density of infectious cattle and the density index of infectious

    badgers (shown below). Several of their models - namely those with density-dependent transmission within and

    between species, and/or environmental transmission - predicted such a relationship. The figure below shows

    how closely the data fitted that relationship. The coefficient of determination was quite high at R2 = 0.869. This

    could be taken to suggest that a high proportion of the variation was thus explained, but since it was assumed

    that the line passed through the origin, R2 no longer has its usual simple meaning ( Kvålseth, 1985  )


    Modified figure reproduced here for critical appraisal is from Hone & Donnelly (2008)
     

    Relationship between the density of TB infectious cattle and density index of TB infectious badgers. The orange points represent those sites where the initial proactive badger cull was made before the FMD outbreak. The green points represent those sites where the initial proactive cull was made after the FMD outbreak.

    Whilst recognising that their results were based on observational data, a small data set and two clusters of

    data points (shown orange and green in our graph), Hone & Donnelly argued that this graph demonstrated a close

    positive relationship between bovine TB in cattle herds and badgers infectious with M. bovis - with infection

    passing in both directions. They suggested that this meant that bovine TB in cattle herds could be substantially

    reduced, possibly even eliminated, in the absence of transmission from badgers to cattle, providing there was

    no change in the situation during the process of reducing transmission.


    Clearly there is a relationship here - but describing it as 'close' is questionable.


    • In the right hand cluster, the initial proactive culling of badgers was delayed until after the foot and mouth

      disease (FMD) epidemic in 2001. Over this period all testing for bovine TB ceased. These triplets showed

      markedly higher levels of bovine TB in both cattle and badgers, interpreted by Bourne et al. (2007)  as

      evidence of cattle to badger transmission when cattle testing and culling was interrupted by the FMD

      epidemic. Hone & Donnelly felt that a more uniform spread of data across the range of density of infectious

      badgers would have been desirable. This is true, but what is more important is that the same relationship

      should hold within each of the two clusters.

    • Examination of the data shows that there was no evidence of a positive relationship within each cluster -

      separate regressions gave non-significant negative slopes. Of course, if there is lot of measurement error,

      this would not be surprising. But then as the authors themselves point out, the regression model assumes

      that the independent variables are estimated without error. This is not a serious problem if that error is

      small, but then we have just had to assume there is a high level of measurement error to make sense of

      the within cluster relationships...

    We have some further points of concern:
    • The statement that 'sites were randomly

      selected to be proactive culling sites' is

      misleading. The sites for proactive badger

      culling (at least 9 out of 10 of them) were

      randomly allocated to this treatment from a

      total of 30 sites - but those 30 sites appear to

      have been convenience selected. Hence any

      bias in the selection of the 30 original areas will

      still affect the 9 sites randomly allocated to

      proactive culling.

    • We suspect that there is a high risk of spatial

      autocorrelation in these data which would result

      in an overestimate of the strength of any

      relationship.
     
    Convenience sampling is where study units are chosen because they are most accessible or convenient, and no attempt is made to obtain a representative sample.

    A good example is journalists doing 'person in the street' interviews to assess public opinion.

    Here bias is inevitable, and it is impossible to extend any conclusions beyond the actual samples taken.

In conclusion, there seems to be a relationship between the density of

infectious cattle and the density index of infectious badgers, probably

resulting from transmission between and within both hosts. But that

relationship is not very close, even when the best available data are used,

and may not be linear.


It is especially worrying that there is no relationship within each of those

clusters. This could be because the data are still not very good (high levels

of measurement error) or it could be because one or more major

explanatory variables and/or confounding factors are not being considered.

 

How does transmission each way occur?

This section is unfortunately very short, because we still have very little understanding of how bovine TB is

transmitted from badgers to cattle, or vice-versa. The International Scientific Group (Bourne et al., 2007  )

concluded, and King (2007)  agreed, that the most likely means of transmission are inhalation of infected droplets

from the lungs of other infected animals, or oral ingestion of mycobacteria from farm environments. The only direct

experimental evidence comes from the work of Little et al. (1982).  They demonstrated that bovine TB infected

badgers can transmit M. bovis to cattle, but only under unnatural experimental conditions - cattle & badgers were

kept together in a concrete-lined yard where the badgers slept in a metal pig sty.

Badger in a farm building
(Photo: InfluentialPoints under the CC 3.0 Unported License, users must credit InfluentialPoints.com)
A badger in a farm building

So one is left with asking how frequently badgers may encounter cattle under natural

conditions.

  • Benham & Broom (1989)  concluded that the normal behaviour of badgers would

    not result in direct transmission of tuberculosis from badgers to cattle via air

    expired by badgers or via bodily contact. Similarly Benham & Broom (1991) 

    found that nearly all cattle strongly avoided herbage contaminated with badger

    faeces or urine.

  • More recently Böhm et al. (2009)  used novel proximity logging devices to show

    that badgers and cattle came within 4 m of each other on pasture infrequently,

    but it was not as rare as previously thought. Tolhurst et al. (2008)   used remote surveillance, radio-tracking and

    faecal analysis to show that badgers do sometimes exhibit close, investigative 'nose-to-nose' contact with

    housed cattle and also excreted/scent-marked on and around feed.
It is potentially much easier to prevent contact between housed cattle and badgers than when they are out at

pasture, but until we know the relative risks of contact in housing versus pasture, it is difficult to predict how

effective increased biosecurity measures around housing and feed stations will be.
  

Does reducing number of badgers reduce disease in cattle?

Descriptive studies

We tried above to interpret the descriptive data on changes over time in the incidence of tuberculosis in cattle herds

in England and Wales, and found it difficult to reach any firm conclusions. We can instead compare trends in disease

incidence (% reactors of total cattle population) between different countries which differed in their use of badger

culling for TB control.

  •  Northern Ireland has not been culling badgers at all.

  •  
    The Irish Republic has culled an increasing number of badgers each year from around 2000 per year in the mid

    1990s to around 6000 per year in the late 2000s each year.

  • Great Britain culled badgers up to the mid 1990s, but then it was (officially) restricted to the proactive culling

    areas in the randomized trial.
How much illegal culling has been carried out is difficult to assess, but it is certainly widespread in Great Britain and

the Irish Republic.


Figure reproduced here for critical appraisal is from  TBInfo.com et al. (2005a).  

Percentage of cattle each year which are TB reactors (1998-2010). Note especially the sharp increase in both Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the time of the FMD outbreak in 2001 - but the very different trends in those two countries after the outbreak

The trends in each country are very different.

  •  In Northern Ireland the percentage of cattle found to be reactors was around 0.5% in 1999, but it then

    increased sharply in 2002. This probably resulted from the breakdown of the bovine TB testing system following

    the 2001 FMD outbreak. This resulted in both increased local cases, and import of untested animals to replace

    animals culled. Once testing was re-established, TB declined again to its previous level up till 2010.


  •  
    In the Irish Republic the percentage of reactors declined slightly from around 0.6% in 1999 to around 0.4%

    where it has stayed ever since.


  • In Great Britain it was low in 1999, but increased sharply in 2002 (as in Northern Ireland) following the FMD

    outbreak. However, unlike Northern Ireland, the rate did not drop again, but instead continued to increase,

    especially in the south-west of the country.

Certainly one would be hard pushed to reach a clear conclusion on the

advisability or otherwise of badger culling from these descriptive data.


All one can say is that after very different histories, each country seems to

have ended up with roughly the same bovine TB prevalence (albeit with

great within-country variation)!

 

Observational badger removal projects


We now consider badger removal projects. These were intended as experiments, but there was no random

allocation of treatment to area, sometimes no reference (without culling) area, and sometimes no replication. As

such they do not meet the basic requirements for a scientific experiment, and are correctly classified as

observational studies.


Three such studies were carried out in Great Britain - at Thornbury in Avon, at Steeple Leaze in Dorset, and at

Hartland
in North Devon. In the Thornbury trial badgers appear to have been completely removed (at least

temporarily) and no new infected herds were recorded for over ten years (Clifton-Hadley et al., 1995;  Gallagher et al.,
2008
  ) A similar result was obtained at Steeple Leaze. However, documentation of the studies seems to have

been rather poor and there were no survey-only areas.


Two studies were carried out in the Republic of Ireland. In the east-Offally project proactive badger took place in

one area from 1989 to 1995. Máirtín et al. (1998)  compared the proportion of new confirmed tuberculous herd

restrictions in that area with cattle from an area where only reactive removal was practiced. The incidence of bovine

TB in cattle fell markedly in the removal area and less markedly in the neighbouring reactive culling reference area.

The study was expanded post 1995 over a somewhat larger area. By 2004, Kelly et al. (2008)  observed a

significant decreases in herd restrictions of 22% in the entire proactive removal area and 37% in the inner proactive

removal area.


Another non-randomized trial, the Four Areas Study, was carried out in Ireland from September 1997 to August

2000 (Griffin et al., 2005a  ). Matched removal and reference areas (average area of 245 km2) were convenience

selected in each of four counties of Ireland: Cork, Donegal, Kilkenny and Monaghan. In the removal areas badger

culling was intensive and proactive throughout the study period, with 0.57 badgers /km2 removed. In reference

areas it was instead reactive, with badgers culled only in response to severe tuberculosis outbreaks in cattle, with

0.07 badgers /km2 removed. The response variable was restriction of cattle herds where tuberculous lesions were

detected in one or more animals.


Figure reproduced here for critical appraisal is modified from  Griffin et al. (2005a).  

Odds ratios of a herd restriction for bovine TB in removal versus reference area in 4 Irish counties (1992-2002). The odds ratio gives the odds of getting a herd restriction in a removal area relative to a reference area. Hence an odds ratio below 1 indicates lower odds of a herd restriction in the removal area than in the reference area.

In the final year of the study, the odds of a confirmed herd restriction in the removal compared to the reference

areas were 0.25 in Cork, 0.04 in Donegal, 0.26 in Kilkenny and 0.43 in Monaghan. At first sight, this trial does

appear to provide fairly decisive evidence that relatively intensive culling with minimal reinvasion does reduce the

incidence of bovine TB in cattle.

 

Against that it has to be said that using reactive removal as the control may well have increased the bovine TB rate

in the reference areas, so that the effect was overestimated. Griffin et al. (2005a)  rejected this arguing that there

was no significant increase in levels of tuberculosis in cattle in response to reactive badger removal in the reference

areas. Whilst this is true, the graphs in Griffin et al. (2005b)  (not shown here) do show a marked peak in 1998-1990

(higher than any previous levels) in three of the four (reactive culling) reference areas.


Griffin et al.
also argued that the intensity of badger removal in the reference areas was very low - too low to result in

any perturbation of badger populations. But this is only the case when averaged across the whole area - in the

affected areas the intensity of removal was very high. The authors concluded by saying that although feasible,

widespread badger removal was not a viable strategy for the long-term control of tuberculosis in the Irish cattle

population, and therefore there was a need to develop an effective vaccine for badgers.

  • These observational studies certainly strongly suggested that badgers

    were involved in the transmission of bovine TB.
  • Where badger removal was near complete, there were no new TB

    cases for several years.
  • But in other areas the level of tuberculosis reduction did not seem to

    match the level of badger reduction.
  • And, as we should have learnt from medical trials, observational studies

    using non-random allocation are almost invariably biased and unreliable.

 

The randomized badger culling trial (RBCT)

 

Lastly we come to the Krebs randomized trial. This was the first properly designed trial with randomized allocation

of treatment to experimental units (in this case areas). We nowadays expect very high standards of randomization in

medical trials, simply because we know that any other approach tends to give the wrong answer. But the Krebs trial

was the first (and so far only) instance where the approach has been used to compare methods of controlling

bovine TB.

     

    Thirty trial areas, each about 100 km2, were selected as ten matched triplets, all in areas of high cattle TB

    incidence. Where possible, they followed geographic barriers likely to impede badger movement. Neighboring

    trial areas were separated by buffer zones at least 3 km wide.


    All trial areas were surveyed for badger activity and then (most) were randomly allocated to treatments.

    Allocation was done such that each treatment - proactive culling, reactive culling, or survey only (no culling) -

    was repeated ten times, once within each triplet. Consent was sought from landholders before areas were

    surveyed for badger activity and culling treatments allocated. The proportion of inaccessible land within

    proactive treatment areas varied from 15% to 50% (30% overall).


    Following treatment allocation, initial badger culls were conducted on all land in the proactive areas for which

    consent was given. Culling treatment area boundaries were defined beyond trial area boundaries where

    necessary to ensure that all badgers likely to use land inside the trial areas were targeted. Badgers were

    captured in cage traps placed primarily at setts. No culling took place in February - April each year to avoid

    killing mothers with dependent cubs. No attempt was made to remove all badgers in an area, but instead

    trapping operations were conducted over a fixed number of nights (initially 11 and then 8).


    Initial badger culls for each proactive trial area were completed between December 1998 and December 2002,

    and 'follow-up' culls were repeated approximately annually with longer delays in 2001 because of the FMD

    epidemic. As soon as the initial proactive cull was complete, data were collected on bovine TB incidence in

    cattle in and around trial areas, using established veterinary surveillance. Primary analyses were based on the

    incidence of confirmed breakdowns.

The first results published from the trial were not as expected. An interim analysis carried out before the planned

completion of the trial (Donnelly et al., 2003  ) suggested that localised reactive badger had not reduced bovine TB

incidence in cattle, but may well have increased it. The reactive treatment was associated with a 27% increase in

the incidence of cattle herd breakdowns when compared with no culling areas. The 95% confidence interval to this

was a 2.4% decrease to 65% increase. Hence, whilst the increase was not quite significant at P = 0.05, it seemed

very unlikely that this treatment would reduce TB incidence. As a result, the government discontinued the reactive

culling treatment, and the trial continued with just two treatments - proactive culling and survey only.


Woodroffe (2008)  reported that the proactive cull had been effective in reducing the number of badgers. There was

a 73% reduction in the density of badger latrines, a 69% reduction in the density of active burrows and a 73%

reduction in the density of road-killed badgers. Localized 'reactive' culling caused reductions of 10 - 32% in the

'signs' of badger populations.


Donnelly et al. (2007)  reported on the impact of the culling on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle. During the trial

period, bovine TB incidence in cattle was significantly lower by an average 23.2% inside culled areas (red points

below), but non-significantly higher by an average 24.5% on land within 2 km of the culled area (green points below)

, relative to matched unculled areas.


Figure reproduced under a Creative Commons licence from  Jenkins et al. (2010).
 

Effect of badger culling versus time period. The graph shows the proportionate increase or decrease of bovine TB over time relative to survey only areas. Hence -0.5 indicates a 50% reduction in bovine TB relative to survey-only areas

Subsequent analysis by Vial & Donnelly (2011)  using a case-control study design supports the conclusion that

localized reactive culling increased the risk of bovine tuberculosis in nearby cattle herds.


Inside the culling area the beneficial effect of culling tended to increase on successive annual culls giving a 35%

decrease in bovine TB by the end of the culling period. After culling ended, the positive effects inside proactive

culled areas initially became more pronounced to give a 50% decrease in bovine TB. The positive effects declined

thereafter, although the sudden increase at months 31-36 resulted from use of incomplete data (see below); the full

data indicate a more gradual reversion to the previous TB level.


The detrimental effect in adjoining areas was ascribed to the perturbation effect (Carter et al., 2007  ). Culling of

badgers results in immigration into culled areas, disruption of territoriality, increased ranging and mixing between

social groups. The increased contact rates between social groups are thought to exacerbate bovine TB

transmission. The detrimental effect tended to diminish on successive annual culls and were no longer apparent by

the end of the trial.

 

A cost-benefit analysis suggested that benefits in terms of reduction of bovine TB in the culling zones did not offset

the costs of culling and of the increase in bovine TB in adjoining areas.


One might think that being the 'best' trial so far would lead to general acceptance of the results - but far from it!


  • Ecologists and wildlife conservationists have generally accepted the results.

  • But the response from most of the farming community has been negative, as it has from much of the veterinary

    establishment.


  • Even the implementing body DEFRA noted that: "The large number of biases inherent in any field trial makes

    interpretation of the results generated from them difficult." This may seem an odd comment to make about the

    only randomized trial that has been carried out on this issue. But it is important to acknowledge that there were

    many problems both in the design and implementation of this trial.

Our own criticisms would focus on the following:

  1. Too few replications

    The number of replications was very small, at 10 for each of two (originally three) treatments. This level of

    replication was set purely by power considerations, which are concerned with demonstrating statistical

    significance for a given effect size - not with obtaining a result which can be extrapolated to a larger area

    (unless the original experimental units are randomly selected). If this had been a medical trial, it would be

    regarded as an (excessively) small matched-cluster randomised trial.


    More trials would have to be run in different areas to obtain generalizability, followed by a meta-analysis to

    estimate the overall effect size. But the chances of being able to run any more randomized trials on this topic

    seem vanishingly small. The enormous cost of the trial (estimated at £50 million) seems likely to doom this

    approach - at least run by a goverment department - to the history books. As it is these are the results of just

    one trial carried out at 30 convenience-selected sites in south-west England at one point in time - extrapolation

    is therefore highly speculative.

  2. Non-random treatment allocation

    Treatment was only allocated randomly in 9 of the 10 triplets for undefined 'security' reasons. The inconvenient

    fact that 10% of allocations were done non-randomly, rather than in a (stratified) random manner was

    completely ignored in all analyses. Results should have been analyzed with and without that triplet so that

    any bias could be assessed.

  3. Implementation problems

    Some landowners refused access for badger culling, and (no doubt) some illegal culling continued in 'non-culling'

    areas. Treatment and monitoring schedules were severely disrupted by demonstrators and especially by the

    FMD outbreak. This meant that badger culling could not be carried out at annual intervals, and the routine cattle

    TB test and cull programme fell apart.


    Others have also commented on the implementation problems.


    • One of the Field Managers (Caruana, 2006 ) felt that compulsory entry on to farms was essential, and that

      eight days per year was totally inadequate to trap-out the badger. He concluded that 'the trial has far too

      many flaws in it to be trusted to produce meaningful answers'.

    • Gallagher et al. (2008)  also noted that serious questions remained concerning the efficiency of culling in the

      RBCT. They stressed that past badger removal projects had been much more successful because

      complete social groups had been removed.

     

    Whilst accepting that the trial had 'problems', this does not invalidate the results providing we treat it as

    a pragmatic trial. In the real world there are likely to be even more implementation problems than was the case

    here. In medical trials it is usual analyze results by intention to treat - in other words all experimental units

    randomized to treatment are subjected to analysis, irrespective of errors in treatment assignment, breakdown

    in blinding and withdrawals. If we treat the badger trial as a pragmatic trial, then the numerous implementation

    problems (in particular the failure to kill all badgers in the cull areas) are simply included as representative of

    the sort of the problems there would be if the approach was used in practice.

  4. Reactive culling treatment should not have been terminated.

    This decision was highly questionable given that it was made just before the treatment effect reached statical

    'significance'. Reactive culling was the method of control that had been used to date, and would be the only

    method of control that could realistically be used in future. The early termination of this treatment means that

    some (for example More et al., 2007 ) can still argue that the data do not provide sufficient evidence for adverse

    effects of reactive culling. Perhaps the treatment was only terminated for political reasons - although it must be

    said that the researchers lost credibility by going along with it post hoc.

  5. Cost-benefit analysis was simplistic

    The cost-benefit analysis has been widely criticised for initially using the costs of cage-trapping rather than the

    cheaper methods of 'free shooting' or snaring. However, Jenkins et al. (2010)  did consider alternate methods,

    including licenced culling, but concluded this approach would almost certainly be patchy and unsustained, and

    hence most likely prompt increases, rather than reductions, in the incidence of bovine TB in cattle. Our own

    criticism of the cost-benefit analysis is more serious, in that no value was assigned to badgers - an issue we

    address below.

  6. Premature publication of incomplete analyses

    Some of the analyses (including some economic analyses) were published prematurely, with incomplete data

    for some time periods. Whilst this is understandable, given the pressure from government for 'answers', it was

    still unwise since it means that graphs in one scientific paper suddenly change in the next paper - leading to

    criticism and loss of credibility (bovinetb.info, 2011 ).

Given the fact that we only have one small randomized trial, we have to

draw conclusions from all studies, but give the result of the randomized trial

more weight.
  1. Complete removal of all badgers (and in some areas deer) from an

    area, coupled with rigourous test and cull of cattle and elimination of

    reinvading wildlife, would reduce bovine TB to a low level, and may in

    the long run eliminate the disease in the area concerned.
  2. Removing most badgers (say 70%) over small areas in response to

    outbreaks (reactive culling) is counter-productive and may increase

    infections.
  3. Removing most badgers (say 70%) over a large area will reduce cattle

    infection rates by 20-50%, but is probably not cost effective, even if the

    wildlife resource is assumed to have no value.
 

Disease eradication or control


The official policy in Britain (and the rest of the European Union) is to eradicate bovine TB from cattle. This is laid

out in 'The Bovine TB Eradication Programme For England' (DEFRA 2011b ). It is true that disease eradication has

been achieved for smallpox in humans, and has recently been claimed for rinderpest in cattle. These diseases,

however, have single maintenance hosts and hence eradication is a meaninful objective (CFSPH, 2008 ). But no

disease with multiple maintenance hosts has ever been eradicated - and may never be. Moreover global eradication

programmes are extremely expensive and can have very adverse side-effects, especially in relation to diverting

resources from effective control methods (see Caplan, 2009  on 'Is eradication ethical?').


Even disease elimination - namely reduction to zero in the incidence of infection within a specified geographical area

- is impractical when you have several wild maintenance hosts as with bovine TB. TB infected cattle can be removed

using the 'test and cull' approach, with affected herds put under movement restriction and re-tested periodically to

eliminate cattle that may shed the organism. But this approach cannot be used for wildlife reservoir species, which

in Britain means badgers and fallow deer. Because sick badgers are more likely to get culled, large scale pro-active

culls (actually a misuse of the term 'cull') may sometimes reduce the disease prevalence in badgers (Corner et al.,

2008
 ), but cannot possibly eliminate infections in a wild population.

We have no reliable diagnostic test for an individual

badger, and no way to keep 'contacts' under observation.

Hence, if one is really trying to eliminate all infections, the

only culling option is the total elimination of badger &

 deer populations
.
 
Observant readers may note the definition of cull  has expanded from its earlier meaning of selective removal of infected individuals, to encompass area-wide extermination of badgers.

Let us be grateful similar methods are not applied to human disease.

 

This of course brings vehement protestations from farmers, veterinarians and politicians that killing all badgers is

unthinkable, and that they only want to reduce the number of badgers. If that is the case, then perhaps it would be

better all round if the European Union, the British government and the veterinary establishment finally stopped talking

about disease eradication and thought rationally about disease control.

 

In fact, as we have seen, the only reduction that would have much effect upon the bovine TB infection rate in cattle

is a massive reduction in badger numbers, a point apparently accepted by the government scientific establishment.

Sir David King told a Parliamentary Committee that, in his opinion, a reduction by 70 to 80% would be perfectly

acceptable and would be within the terms of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and

Natural Habitats (House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, 2007  ). His statement is

frighteningly reminiscent of the drive to eradicate tsetse flies from southern Africa, where for many years game-

elimination was viewed as a viable strategy to achieve that end. Between the 1920's and 1960, 1.3 million game

animals were killed, including many species (such as rhino) which are now endangered.


The classic quote was given by John Ford:

"[The failure of game shooting operations

to eradicate tsetse in the Sabi Valley]

does not imply any intrinsic failure of the

method, but indicates only that to achieve

control much more intensive killing would

have been required.
"


Ford, J. 'Control by destruction of the

larger fauna' in The African

Trypanosomiasis (Ed. C. H. W. Mulligan),

Allen and Unwin, London, p. 563.

 
The mass killing of wildlife that went on in Africa is now regarded as an appalling waste of resources - as would be the widescale elimination of Britains largest remining wild predator.

African governments are now well aware their wildlife resources have a value, and allow for this when comparing the cost-effectiveness of disease control strategies.

Perhaps the British and Irish governments could do the same.

 

So do badgers have any value?

 

Perhaps the most common response to this from advocates of badger culling is that badgers are not endangered in

Britain, with a population size of over 300,000. But this implies that a species has no value unless it is close to

extinction. The British badger population has high value in international conservation of the species, simply because

it is the largest most stable population in Europe not adversely affected by hunting.

 

Its importance is recognised by the the Bern Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats

(1979). It is even accepted by the UK government that mammals such as badgers, otters and seals have great

cultural significance (DEFRA, 2011a  ). As Sir Gordon Conway pointed out, in a talk at Imperial College in 1975, we

have to assign a value to our natural resources - or we will undoubtedly loose them for ever.

Young badger found poisoned near badger sett
(Photo: InfluentialPoints under the CC 3.0 Unported License, users must credit InfluentialPoints.com)

Young badger found poisoned


Bennett & Willis (2007)  carried out a choice experiment survey in England and Wales to assess what value the '

public' placed on badgers. Whilst people gave a relatively low value to modest reductions in the size of badger

populations to control bovine TB, they had a relatively high willingness to pay for a policy that did not involve

intentionally killing large numbers of badgers.

 

Certainly if 'free shooting' of badgers leads to major disruption of the countryside by protesters, it seems likely that

the economic consequences for the tourism and recreation components of the rural economy will be severe. This

mistake was made during the FMD epidemic in 2002, when huge economic losses were sustained as a result of

'shutting down the countryside' (Blake et al., 2003   ). We now expect - and pay - farmers to play an important role in

the maintenance of biodiversity, which implies that we value both the wildlife and the farming.

 

So where does that leave us? If both badgers and cattle have value, it takes us firmly to the vaccination option for

both cattle and badgers. Corner et al. (2002)  argued that vaccination is useful "wherever animals of high economic,

social or conservation value are involved and test and slaughter or culling programs are not applicable". The badger

is about as good a candidate as you can get for having high social and conservation value. A licensed injectable

vaccine for badgers is already available for use in 2010, and an oral formulation of the vaccine could be available

from 2012. Whilst nearly all the planned trials of badger vaccination in Britain were scrapped in 2010 by the

incoming government - one of the most retrogressive and anti-science actions of any new government - a major

badger vaccination trial is planned in Ireland (Corner et al., 2009  ).

 

As for cattle vaccination, research is continuing on a new vaccine, but a strong case can be made to use the current

BCG vaccine in cattle now (see also bovinetb  and Torgerson & Torgerson (2009)  ). Derogation from EU regulations

would have to be sought, but the price for this would be small compared to the gains, and other countries would

soon follow suit. The Small Farms Association  also now supports vaccination of cattle with the current BCG vaccine

on the basis that endless prevarication will only further depress the British farming industry. Combining vaccination

with cage-trapping of badgers - with a cull only of those with infectious lesions of tuberculosis - may help give

speedier disease control in disease hotspots.

  • We are not saying here that vaccination is the silver

    bullet to eradicate bovine TB - it is not. But, if

    we want feasible cost-effective control of bovine

    TB, we need to vaccinate both badgers and cattle

     now.

  • The proposed reactive (and no doubt very patchy)

    badger cull makes no sense scientifically, and

    may well worsen the situation.

  • Given these facts, could it be the UK government

    has adopted a dysfunctional disease control policy  merely to placate wealthy livestock farmers and avoid spending money?

    If so, it is almost as unfair to farmers as it is to the badgers...

  If you are interested in an evidence-based approach to the science of disease control see part 1 (This allows you to download the setup programme for our introduction to statistics e-course, plus R installation) of 'Stats with Attitude'

 

Robert D. Dransfield (Senior Partner, InfluentialPoints.LLP)

 

Feedback & comments

    We would be delighted to receive feedback and comments at info@InfluentialPoints.com

    Comments (whether positive or negative) are displayed here, in the order received.

  • David Major  Bovinetb.info  Nov 2011

    I have just read [Badger culling and bovine TB (tuberculosis)] and found it to be very readable and well researched. You put much effort into making it interesting and did a good job of carrying the reader along. I am not even a statistician and you only completely lost me in a couple of paragraphs! My other general comment is that the content would have been more rounded and perhaps viewed as being more informative if further information had been put into the difficulties and practicalities of vaccination for both badgers and cattle. Anyone looking for information without a preconceived agenda would for example want to know the technical reasons for why vaccination is not being implemented now and what is still outstanding which needs to be achieved. Providing this would improve the value of your page as a source of information.

  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com  18 Nov 2011

    Re the technical reasons for why vaccination is not being implemented now, the key point is whether you are using it control the disease or whether one is into 'eradication' (or at least elimination of the disease in Britain). If you are content with the much more realistic goal of control, then there are no technical reasons why we should not use the BCG vaccine in cattle now as recommended by the Small Farms Association.

  • David Major 
    Bovinetb.info  18 Nov 2011

    REF: BCG vaccine in cattle I earlier today emailed the EU and asked the following question.
    "If you can, I would be grateful if you could give me your understanding of what the potential adverse consequences would be if the EU were to change legislation today which would allow the UK to vaccinate cattle against bovine tuberculosis and continue exporting cattle products to other member states."
    I understand from DEFRA that the value of this export was about 375 million pounds in 2010 (Live trade is now neglible). I also understand that Intra-Community trade of bovine animals and products is harmonized across the European Union, so any ban would be expected to apply to trade with all other Member states.


  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com  24 Nov 2011

    As regards your webpage 'Bovine TB Time for a Rethink'  I would only make the following points: 1. Although the idea of leaving disease control decisions to farmers is appealing, it means we would miss out on one of the big advantages of vaccination - herd immunity (as you note in Section 7). Vaccination should be compulsory. 2. As we point out we also need to vaccinate the badger population using an oral vaccine - this has been done very successfully in Europe against rabies in wild fox populations.

  • Sally Hall Rethink TB  24 Nov 2011

    Your points about compulsory vaccination are interesting and we did consider this but felt it important to get responsibility for disease control back with the farmers. We felt it important to keep niche markets, such as raw milk, where the test and cull policy may still need to be implemented. With regards to wildlife reservoirs we took the view that it is a disease of cattle and not any worse than other diseases that are not given the same attention/resources bTB is. For example, we understand that 70% of cattle herds have leptospirosis....this is a nasty zoonoses that kills. In fact Andy Holmes - double olympic gold medalist in rowing was one of the more famous victims of this disease. In view of the negligible risks to humans from the disease (because most mile is now pasteurised) we therefore considered vaccination of wildlife to be disproportionate and not cost effective. Have you seen the Torgerson paper. If not you should find it very interesting as they argue pasturisation of milk is sufficient to safeguard public health regardless of incidence in cattle....people contracted bTB in the 30's due to unpasteurized milk... the eradication programme has a devastating effect on the cattle industry....

  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com

    The Torgerson paper is now referred to - thanks Sally.


  • Jane Brown

    Thank you for your very informative article on bTB and badgers. As history in Ireland and the UK can confirm, the TB bacteria enjoys the conditions and climate of these islands, as evidenced by the magnitude of the human TB problem found here, prior to the advent of the human vaccine. It is a naturally occurring bacteria that can thrive for long periods of time in such climactic conditions. Aside from transmission from cattle and the consequent introduction of pasteurization to reduce these events, it was also ascertained that overcrowding, lack of hygiene, etc., contributed to the vast numbers of human TB sufferers.

    Presumably, it is similar with cattle, wherein herds currently are of a much greater magnitude than pre-1980, farmers are now often 'part time' and unable to devote as much time to farming practices, cattle are now housed in winter in often questionable conditions, etc.

    Scientifically, it has been ascertained that the evidence of bTB in cattle dramatically increases during early spring months, just after cattle are once again put out to pasture. Logically it would appear then, that cattle housing in some way exacerbates this problem. I often wonder if, during culling trials when bTB allegedly was reduced, farming practices were not themselves radically improved due to the possibility of government scrutiny. And certainly, government regulations that now oversee cattle movement, etc., must play a part in any statistical reduction of disease found. While many officials, farmers and vets deem the badger to be inconsequential as it is not an 'income producing animal', it would be interesting to project future agricultural concerns when, with a diminished badger population, the larvae, grubs, etc., that the badger consumes and controls, are left unchecked. The balance of nature must always be respected.

    The issue of bTB is not a human health issue, but one of farming economy. There is no viable reason that cattle vaccination, particularly with the advent of DIVA testing, should not be legislatively acceptable. It is truly the only rational way forward.

  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com

    Many thanks for your comments on our article on bTB and badgers on our website.

    Am I correct in thinking that you have published several articles on the topic (e.g. Studies on the spread of bovine tuberculosis from badgers to cattle). If so, I would much appreciate receiving pdf copies of your papers.

    I would like to post your comments on our website, but one question first. We are a little dubious about the implication that our climate is especially suitable for TB bacteria. Every part of the world has had tuberculosis, and nearly every part of the world has the disease now. Moreover the disease is more virulent in warm climates than in cold. I worked in the Rift Valley in Kenya for some years and human TB is still a huge problem there.

    Anyway, 'tis but a small point. The main thing as you say is that there is no viable reason why we should not control bovine tb with cattle vaccination.

  • Jane Brown

    Thank you for your email. I am not a scientist, nor have I published any articles with respect to TB. My interest lay solely upon the occurrence of culling in my area last year, and, frankly, a pet badger that I wished to protect. At that time, I did a whirlwind of research on this topic - at least as much as the internet would provide - and was under the impression that a moderate climate, damp and unhygienic conditions, overcrowding and stress, can allow the bacteria to exist outside a host for a considerable amount of time. I was also under the impression that the TB bacteria found in Africa is a different strain than m. bovis, however, again, this information is just what I have gleaned from third-party research.

    I do believe that cattle vaccination is the only goal in this entire issue, and frankly, feel that the public have been somewhat misled by the inference that this is a human health issue, when in essence, it is solely economic to the cattle industry.

    In any event, you are certainly more than welcome to post any of my comments on your website, although now that you understand I am solely a lay person, you may not be quite as interested in doing so!


  • Thomas P. Kelly, MVB, MRCVS, Republic of Ireland

    I wrote the following to an Irish politician yesterday.

    As it largely concerns the covering up of our problems with badger perturbation and its adverse effects on cattle TB in Ireland, I thought it might interest you, too:

    Please find attached a critique of a very significant press release by the then minister for agriculture etc., Mary Coughlan, in which she and DAFF repeatedly shoot themselves so often in the feet and legs that they hardly have a leg left to stand on, a fact I am ashamed to say my profession has so far failed to bring to the Irish public's attention.

    I can write you a brief background to our bovine TB "eradication"/elimination/control efforts and to how ego and greed etc. have sabotaged our attempts to rid staunch a fifty-year+ long haemorrhage of national resources if you wish? Or I could talk you through it over the phone?

    As long as we

    • continue to deny that "culling" badgers in Ireland has any adverse effect on bovine TB,
    • continue to be preoccupied with covering up this deceit,
    • continue to intimidate any who would think to blow a whistle on this,
    • continue to therefore undermine or even make a large scale mockery of state-run veterinary epidemiology in Ireland,
    • continue to attempt to mislead Britain, the EU and the world in this regard and, offence no doubt being deemed the greatest form of defence, continue to suggest to the British that they have greatly overestimated the adverse effects of culling badgers in Britain, (please see attached article from the Veterinary Record by Professor Simon More (also an author, and perhaps the most significant one - young Francisco Olea-Popelka having been "parachuted in" from abroad to do the slagging - off http://www.veterinaryirelandjournal.com/Links/PDFs/Peer/Peer_December_06.pdf ), and continue, by so doing, to falsify the true economics of badger "culling" to control bovine TB so that any attempts to vaccinate badgers and/or cattle, instead, may seem less feasible, less economic or even prohibitively expensive by comparison,
    then incalculable harm must continue to be done not only financially to the most vulnerable among Irish society, but also to the national psyche itself.

  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com

    Thanks Tom. It's good to know that in Ireland at least some vets are prepared to speak out!


  • Prof John McInerney, emeritus professor of agricultural policy at the University of Exeter,

    Having just discovered your web page dealing with the above topic I congratulate you on a comprehensive, balanced and very informative presentation across the breadth of this complex issue. At a time when the badger culling discussion amounts to little more than competing personal opinion and selective reference to the technical facts, this is a highly valuable contribution.

    However, I must pick you up on one point. One of your criticisms of the RBCT was that the "cost benefit analysis was simplistic". This is an entirely empty criticism because a cost benefit analysis was not actually conducted! Paragraph 9.16 of the ISG Final Report points out that the economic weakness of culling strategies could be seen from simple accounting without recourse to a CBA, and again in para 9.20 it is stated that the broad cost and benefit estimates demonstrate why there was no point in undertaking a CBA. The financial calculations the ISG reported were indeed simple ("simplistic" has unnecessarily pejorative overtones) but nevertheless highlighted the economic imbalance in the culling operations quite accurately and unambiguously.

    And that conclusion is in no way affected by your criticism, which you describe as "more serious, in that no value was assigned to badgers". If an additional cost element relating to the value of the badgers culled had been included it would merely have increased the total cost associated with culling and exacerbated even further the already obvious benefit-cost imbalance. In addition, any attempt to include such aspects beyond the direct (culling operations) costs and direct (disease reduction) benefits would have started to lead towards undertaking what would be recognised as a cost-benefit analysis, and thereby require consideration of a far wider constellation of impacts (benefits of reduced badger population, veterinary income and employment effects of reduced cattle TB, etc, etc). as well as wider social and economic implications. The ISG were well advised not to go there.

    In general, I would criticise your final section on "So do badgers have any value" of falling into the trap (as, understandably, non-economists are prone to) of failing to distinguish between the total value of a stock of something (e.g. a wildlife population) and the marginal value of a change in the size of that stock. A reduction in the size of the total badger population from 300,000 to 275,000 may not be considered in value terms to be as significant as a reduction from 30,000 to 5,000 - though both represent the loss of 25,000 badgers. So it is not a sensible question to ask "what is the value of a badger"!

  • Bob Dransfield InfluentialPoints.com

    Very many thanks for your generally complimentary and very constructive comments on our web page on the badger culling discussion.

    We fully accept that we should have been more specific in our criticism of the 'cost-benefit analysis'. We were referring not only to final report of the ISG (2007) (where I agree entirely with the points made), but also to subsequent publications (e.g. Jenkins et al (2010) in PLoS ONE) where we encounter comments such as "the total cost of licensed culling (would be) slightly lower than the potential benefits projected from RBCT results."

    Although such conclusions were hedged with caveats, the impression was given that the 'benefit-cost imbalance' was not quite so clear cut, and that with a bit more effort at reducing costs it might make financial sense. Such comments tend to get pounced upon by people who wish to support culling.

    As for our final section, although we entitled it "so do badgers have any value", I don't think we in any way suggested that you can put a value on a 'per animal' basis. We started that section by pointing out that the British badger population has a high conservation value because it is the largest most stable population in Europe currently not adversely affected by hunting. Hence it is the population that has value, and we have to consider how best to conserve that population in the context of a biodiverse countryside.

 

References

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GOOD NEWS FOR SOME BADGERS

 

Borders Rail line: Badgers get £10k new home

 

By David O’Leary
Published on 22/05/2013 12:00

THOUSANDS of pounds are to be spent relocating hundreds of residents living in the path of the new Borders Railway – but the answer isn’t as black and white as you may think.

Several badger setts have been identified by wildlife experts along the 35-mile route and a £10,000 pot has been set aside to provide the nocturnal hunters with alternative accommodation due to the threat the works pose to their habitat.

Artificial setts are to be created in order to move them to safety, which is a legal requirement surrounding the protected carnivores.

A full-time badger expert has now been drafted in to oversee the project which will see identical but roomier setts, comprising numerous chambers and tunnels, constructed and then covered in soil up to a metre deep to hide them from view.

Tasty treats will be used to encourage the animals to visit the new setts, and once the entire clan has moved in access to their previous home will be blocked.

Network Rail, in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), is also providing alternative nesting spots for owls and has plans in place to limit the impact on other species along the route, such as bats and otters.

SNH licensing manager Ben Ross said: “Each sett can vary in size and the number of badgers it contains so depending on factors such as these, each artificial sett could cost between £200-£300 and £1000 to construct.

“Relocations such as this are quite common when large capital projects are being built. It basically involves digging a large hole and then constructing a series of tunnels and chambers using railway sleepers and large pipes.

“Badgers are creatures of habit and use the same paths to get about at night so the likelihood is that if you build a new sett, they will inevitably investigate it.

“You’d think that they would reject the idea and look to return to their own original sett, but if the sett is built correctly and offers more room, then the badgers seem very happy to take up residence.”

Under laws protecting badgers, work cannot be carried out within 30 metres of a known sett and approval has to be gained from SNH for its removal.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering the new railway with the minimum of disturbance to wildlife along the line of route.

“We have plans in place for a range of environmental factors, including the temporary rehoming of badgers, and are liaising with Scottish Natural Heritage to make sure we work around important habitats and protected species or plants as sensitively as possible.”

The £300 million scheme is the largest rail reopening project in modern UK history and the line is due to open in summer 2015.

Seven new stations are being created at Shawfair, Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge, Stow, Galashiels and ­Tweedbank.

In 2006, we revealed £320,000 was spent on 11,000 metres of badger fencing along the Capital’s tram line.

Underground overground, badgering free

Badgers are a large and instantly recognisable member of the weasel family and are the UK’s largest canrivore.

There are thought to be approximately 288,000 badgers in the UK, but an estimated 45,000 are killed in road accidents every year. They are a secretive and nocturnal animal, with a distinctive black-and-white striped face, which breeds in winter and gives birth in February.

Each night when they emerge from their setts they scent where worms will be emerging from the soil.

Their supposed ferocity has led to the sport of badger baiting in which they are dug out to have dogs set on them. If convicted, badger baiters may face a up to six months in jail.

 

RSPCA - Problems With Badgers? - Protecting and Watching Badgers

wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/S/00Ref/bookscontents/rspca-problems_with_badgers/4...

4.3.4 Permanently reinforcing badger setts 4.4 Watching at badger setts ... As a general rule, English Nature require a licence if the work is to be carried out within .... In addition the barrels can be cemented into place or covered with flints and ...

 

Badgers hunted down by "lowlife" baiters (From The Northern Echo)

www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/9554917.Badgers_hunted_down_by__lowlife__bai...

Feb 27, 2012 ... BADGERS are being persecuted out of existence in areas of the North-East by ... A sett entrance was sealed with concrete at Easington Lane, and a badger was killed ... Alternatively, email info@durhamcountybadgers.co.uk ...

 

2008 Notes | Badger-Watch

www.badger-watch.com/site/category/wildlife-diary/2008-notes/

I checked all of our badger setts for signs of water logging and cave in, but apart from ... (just before dawn) this morning it is the earliest I have ever seen one hunting. ..... life we have per acre in the uk compared to anywhere else that we travelled. ... and have dug along the side of the concrete path one meter from the Mobile ...

 

 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) - Badgerland

badgerland.co.uk/animals/faq.html

We (www.badgerland.co.uk) are a web-site aimed at helping the badger in the UK. ... this is what tells an observer that a fox is holed up in a badger sett. ... like to stay on the warm badger rather than your cold stone or concrete patio). .... (this probably explains why like-minded members of the hunt ride miles and miles ...

 

 

PREVIOUS ARTICLES ABOUT BADGERS

  1. Dee Finney's blog March 11, 2012 page 166 PROTEST THE U.K. ...

    www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012/dee-blog166.html
    Mar 11, 2012 – Planned badger culls in England risk increasing rather than decreasing the spread of TB in cattle, more than 30 animal disease experts have ...
  2.  

    Dee Finney's blog INDEX 2 - 2012

    www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012/dee-blog-index2.html
    PROTEST THE CULLING OF THOUSANDS OF U.K. BADGERS UPDATE 3-21-12. CULLING CALLED OFF BY GOV'T, page 199.

    April 12, 2012. MONOLITH ON ...
  3.  

    Dee Finney's blog January 27, 2012 page 115 ANIMAL MUTILATIONS

    www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012/dee-blog115.html
    Jan 27, 2012 – ... cattle are avoided by large scavengers "such as coyotes, wolves, foxes, dogs, skunks, badgers, and bobcats" for several days after its death.
  4.  

    THE MAN WITH A GREEN FACE - Dreams of the Great Earth Changes

    www.greatdreams.com/green_faced_man.htm
    If a Sister feels the need to cut a way out, she will likely summon wolves, bears, badgers, or birds of prey. She may also raise a golem. The main type of golem ...
  5.  

    Dee Finney's blog July 29, 2012 page 260 - THE GAUDY SIDE OF ...

    www.greatdreams.com/blog-2012-2/dee-blog260.html
    Jul 29, 2012 – 5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shitten wood,. 6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, ...
  6.  

    DEES DREAMS AND VISIONS - JULY, 2000

    www.greatdreams.com/jul2000.htm
    Jul 1, 2000 – (A cete of badgers). I also found it in the French Language: it's the same in English and in french. However, the AOL

    dictionary didn't find the ...
  7.  

    DREAMS OF SAND - SANDALS - SANDY

    www.greatdreams.com/sand.html
    NOTE: I found the word 'cete' in the Russian language but don't know what it means. I also found this. (A cete of badgers). I also found it in the French Language: ...
  8. The Psalms - Dreams of the Great Earth Changes

    www.greatdreams.com/psalms.htm
    The rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers. 104:19He appointed the moon for seasons. The sun knows when to set. 104:20You make darkness, and it is night, ...

 

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