Sunday, 17 October 2010

Respond to badger consultations


Badger and cub killed on a farm by using a snare


We recently covered the UK and Welsh Assembly Government's attempts to spend huge sums of money to kill protected wildlife (badgers).

UK Defra Consultation
The UK Defra Consultation is open until 8th December.



[Update: 21 October 2010] The Badger Trust will be printing guidance leaflets for the Defra UK consultation - it is important that this is distributed as widely as possible and they would be grateful if people who would like supplies of the leaflet would advise the Badger Trust office of their requirements. E-mail staff@badgertrust.org.uk to say how many leaflets you would like, the name and address where they are to be sent. The leaflets can be handed out at meetings or events, put through letter boxes, included with newsletters or any correspondence to members, left with friendly shopkeepers etc.

The Badger Trust have now taken scientific and legal advice on the Defra consultation, and considered what it will mean for the badger population in the UK if the proposed cull takes place. Slaughtering protected wildlife is not the answer to dealing with bovine TB. [CIN note: giving up dairy products is a great answer though!]

The advice notes on the Defra Bovine TB Consultation are available here. Note that they are just guidance, so use your own words and arguments - this reduces the chance that Defra will choose to disallow your submission.

WAG Consultation
The WAG Consultation is open until 17th December.

Elin Jones, Minister for Rural Affairs, is consulting on a new Badger Control Order 2010. Like the 2009 Order, which was ruled unlawful earlier this year, if passed this will allow the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) to kill badgers in north Pembrokeshire and adjacent parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire - known as the IAA (Intensive Action Area). Their proposed action is, to enforce access to all land within the area, and to cull around 1400 badgers, just in the first year, by cage trapping and shooting, or free-shooting. The cull would take place annually in spring, summer and autumn for at least 5 years. WAG have ruled out the use of vaccination as part of the current TB Eradication Programme, although an injectable badger vaccine is available now and is an option in England. (Oral badger vaccine is also being trialled and cattle vaccination is on the horizon.) They have not addressed the issue that culling will make the future use of vaccination more difficult because it increases the prevalence of TB in the badger population. Nor have they considered the many other detrimental impacts of culling, such as the negative effects on communities, tourism and other industries, and the reputations of farming and Wales itself. It is absolutely critical that as many people as possible respond to this WAG consultation.

The consultation questions are tricky (many, many responses to the last consultation were discounted, so please take a little time to get yours right). The new PAC Website Consultation page has guidance and also a blank pro forma response form with answers for those people who may not have much time.

In short, here's how to make sure your response will be counted.
  • Head your response clearly - 'Response to Consultation on Badger Control in the Intensive Action Area' - so there can be no doubt that it is a response to this consultation. Put this in the email subject lines and at the top of the email itself, as the first line of a paper response etc.
  • Answer each of the 7 specific consultation questions asked. Set your answers out clearly against the relevant question number. Be direct about your opinion re: the proposed statement / actions.
  • State yes or no as appropriate - and then explain why. (Last time about 1600 emails and other correspondence sent to WAG opposing plans to kill badgers were not counted as consultation responses. If you don't address the questions your response might be classed as ordinary correspondence.)
  • Point out any flaws and skews in the consultation in your response.
  • Make your response individual, whenever possible.
  • Put your name and address on - sign and date it. You can ask WAG not to publish your name, address and email.
  • Keep a copy for yourself (and please send a copy to PAC - PAC, PO Box 65, Cardigan SA43 9AD or info@pembrokeshireagainstthecull.org.uk).
  • Send it to reach WAG by 17 December latest - to TB Team, Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer, Department of Rural Affairs, Welsh Assembly Government, Cathays Park, CF10 3NQ or by email to bovinetbconsultations@wales.gsi.gov.uk
National Trust support killing
The National Trust have done a 'U turn' and are now going to allow badger killing on their land. In a truly dispiriting interview, a senior figure from the National Trust said on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today that they agree with killing badgers. Let them know what you think of their cruel policy.

Why licensing farmers to kill badgers will not work
  • Government spent £50m on a 10 year badger culling trial supervised by the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) which stated that: “licensing farmers to cull badgers will risk increasing and spreading bTB in cattle”.
  • The Government’s own badger culling trial showed that there are profound negative impacts from culling. Although a sustained and co-ordinated 4-5 year cull led to modest falls in cattle TB in the core of the cull area, there was an increase in cattle TB on the periphery and culling led to an increase in the prevalence of TB in the local badger population. This is known as the perturbation effect.
  • The ISG finally concluded that: “badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to the control of bTB”.
What about elsewhere?

  • No badgers have been killed in Scotland yet it is officially bTB free.
  • Badgers have been culled in the Republic of Ireland but bTB remains a big problem. The intention is to replace culling with badger vaccination and cattle controls.
What should be done?

The 2007 ISG report recommended that improved cattle controls would greatly reduce incidents of bTB. The TB advisory group and the TB eradication group also recommended increased cattle controls and improved testing.

  • There are still thousands of overdue tests and no improvement in the testing regime. The Government may even be considering relaxing some of the regulations.
  • Cattle husbandry and biosecurity (disease prevention measures) could still improve.
  • Cattle herds are getting larger and many farmers keep cattle in close contact in large sheds for long periods increasing the risk of passing TB from cow to cow.
  • All cattle controls still need to be rigorously enforced.
  • EU Regulations should be altered so that cattle can be vaccinated against bTB.
  • Badgers should be vaccinated, not killed. This is the only sustainable long term solution to address the occurrence of TB in badgers.
  • The Government proposal seeks to placate those farmers who support a cull; yet it makes them bear the cost. It does not deal with the principal factors that perpetuate bTB in cattle: inaccurate testing for bTB, leaving infected cattle in the herd; moving cattle with undiagnosed bTB.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No one should kill the Badgers or any wildlife at all.!!!!

Treat the cattle for bTB which is where the problem is.