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The Badger Cull

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by

Darren Graham

on 21 January 2014

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Transcript of The Badger Cull


The Badger
Cull

What is the Badger Cull & why is it happening?

Trapping and vaccinating large numbers of badgers would be hugely expensive and time-consuming, and it could take years for the effects to be felt.
It costs £662 per badger per year for five years – £3,310 per badger.
£100m in public money paid in compensation to farmers for the losses of cattle.
In 2012 35,000 cattle were wasted due to bTB and 5171 new herds became infected.
Without tackling TB in badgers we won’t ever deal with it in cattle, so won’t be able to start reducing the costs of the disease. The cost of the disease to the taxpayer is huge and is set to top £1 billion in England over the next ten years if action is not taken.
The estimated potential net reduction in compensation and testing costs for Government for one badger control area of 350km2 is £2.5m over 10 years.











Healthy badgers vs infected badgers



Ideally, a culling strategy would be selective, for example culling only infected badgers, or badgers in a sett where bovine TB has been detected. However, this requires a diagnostic test that is sensitive enough to detect reliably a high proportion of infected animals.

There is no diagnostic test yet available that is both sufficiently sensitive, and practical for use in the field, and therefore a policy of selective culling cannot go ahead.

Cleansing

Culling will be piloted in two areas initially in the first year in order to test assumptions about the humaneness, effectiveness and safety of this control method.

Defra agreed in October 2012 to the request of the National Farmers Union to postpone the two pilot badger culls (in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire) until summer 2013, to allow farmers to continue their preparations and have the best possible chance of carrying out the cull effectively.



Operators will be required to follow best practice guidelines, undertake training and competence testing. Best practice guidance has been published for the two permitted methods of culling: cage trapping and shooting, and controlled shooting
.




Why do you think the
cull
is right?
Reducing the size of the wildlife reservoir has led to the elimination of bovine TB as a problem in other countries.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect the herds of cattle and best estimates from the European Commission suggest it will be 10 years before one will be available.
Vaccinating badgers is not a realistic viable alternative now either. As a vaccine only helps prevent disease, it does not cure it, and it would have little impact in areas where the disease is endemic in the badger population.

Scientific evidence suggests sustained culls of badgers under controlled conditions could reduce TB in local cattle by 12-16% after four years of annual culls, and five years of follow-up

According to Defra, each pilot cull will cost about £100,000 a year, however these costs will be met by farmers who want badgers killed on their land.

One of the arguments against the culling of badgers is that the spread of bTB is only worsened by the perturbation effect however the culling can be done humanely with CO2 which prevents perturbation from occurring.




Why do you think the
cull
is wrong!?

Another Dodo?


A labour councilor and animal welfare activist claims there is a danger that badgers will become extinct in England if culls continue.
Farmers are being allowed to kill up to 5,000 badgers in South West England.
She insisted culls amounted to "little more than a bloodthirsty sport".



The Cost
Intro
Why are badgers being culled?
Because they are vectors in the transmission of Mycobacterium Bovine (bTB) to cattle in the UK

What is bTB?
Bovine TB is an infectious disease of cattle.
The disease can be transmitted in several ways:
It can be spread in exhaled air.
Urine.
Faeces
Pus
so the disease can be transmitted by direct contact.

History relevance
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT).


The Current situation:
The Government policy ‘Reducing Bovine Tuberculosis.

The programme for the Eradication of Bovine TB (2011)

On 27 August the National Farmers Union announced that pilot badger culls have started to help bring bovine TB under control.

Is there any scientific evidence to prove the cull would be effective?
When and Where?
Can badgers be culled humanely?
Why can’t we vaccinate the cattle?
Under EU Law there is no way to distinguish the vaccinated cattle from infected cattle.

Controversial government action?
The government has ignored its own scientists and cancelled vaccination trials which could prove an overall more effective response to TB.
It has been calculated that a cull over a 50sq km area would only save £972,000 in compensation to farmers for infected cattle. But it would cost £1.5m, of which much of these costs are allocated to policing protesters.



So what are people doing to try prevent the badger cull?




Is the cull viable economically?
What about animal welfare?
‘DEFRA’ highlights that the badgers may not be killed outright and may be injured and have to endure a painful death. Pregnant and nursing badgers could be killed leading to the starvation of young.

A matter of morals?
Many say we should stop interfering with nature based on theories and research that haven’t necessarily brought definite conclusions.

Full transcript