Our campaign looks at the issues surrounding the badger cull and pulls out all the stops to prevent it from continuing. When will it be safe for badgers?
The cull is bad for badgers, bad for cattle and bad for farmers. It won't solve bTB.
The Badger cull pilots of 2012 had an additional trail within and that was to assess the effectiveness and humaneness of "free shooting" badgers at night. It was neither humane or effective to free shoot badgers, as stated by the governments own Independent Evaluation Panel. Yet the cull continues.
Other mammals can become infected by the Mycobacterium bovis bacterium, which causes the disease bovine TB (bTB). Between 1994 and 2011, there were just 570 human cases of bovine TB in humans and none were related to cattle.
We believe the reason bTB re-emerged is because of the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak, which led to thousands of cattle being slaughtered and farmers all over the UK restocking and taking advantage of a government concession to do so without carrying out bTB testing as required legally.
Switzerland eradicated bTB by slaughtering entire herds rather than single reactive cows, and has been officially free of the disease (OTF) since 1960 until early this year. The disease has been controlled solely by means of passive surveillance of abattoirs since 1980, although isolated cases, which are sometimes due to the reactivation of human M. bovis infections with subsequent transmission to cattle, have been observed in recent years (46). Just this year, (2013) a herd of cows was euthanised in the canton of Fribourg, after it was found that most were infected with Bovine Tuberculosis. The herd was tested after one cow became seriously ill last month.
Neuchâtel’s Department of Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs says the testing showed that the herd had “a high rate of infection” and decided to euthanise and incinerate all of the animals. The health officials say the high rate indicates that the Tuberculosis was present for years, and that cows that tested negative were in fact carrying the infectious agent. This shows, once again, that M. bovisbacterium, which is the causative agent of the disease, can remain latent and undetected for many years.
Research from Durham University released in 2013 has confirmed that badgers are not major players in the transfer of bTB. Professor Peter Atkins of Durham University has stated:
“It is very probable that other animals did, and do carry TB, including badgers and deer, but cattle-to-cattle transfer is likely also to be an important factor. For example, only one out of nearly 400 badgers killed in road accidents in Cheshire over two decades tested for the disease turned out to be positive. This goes against received wisdom that bTB would have stayed in badgers which obviously weren’t culled when the cattle were in previous decades, and they then re-infected cattle stocks. But this interspecies transference seems unlikely to have occurred on the necessary scale.
Furthermore, no one has yet proved definitively which direction the infection travels between species. The RBCT (Randomised Badger Culling Trial), which ran from 1998 to 2006, indicated complex, interwoven patterns of infection, and concluded badger culling was unlikely to be effective for the future control of bTB.” (21)
Prof. Atkins believes that bTB in badgers is a spill-over disease from cattle, rather than an endemic condition, and probably does not persist over lengthy periods. He contends that a cull could even exacerbate the problem (22).
Prof. Atkins has also said:
“Bovine tuberculosis was completely eliminated from Cheshire, and from the counties which do have badger populations. That elimination took place in the 1950s and what you’d expect according to the traditional badger ecology is that bovine tuberculosis would have stayed in the badgers – which obviously weren’t culled at that time – if there is an association between the two species, but the road traffic accident data shows that wasn’t the case; in fact only one animal out of, I think it’s 400, that were collected over two decades in Cheshire was infected with the disease, which doesn’t suggest it was endemic in that particular county.”
“Farms needed to restock after foot-and-mouth with fresh animals, and most often they bought those animals from the dairy rich southwest. Keeping cows in calf for their milk means this is a traditional cattle breeding area; so in County Durham, for instance, where quite a lot of cattle were slaughtered as a result of foot-and-mouth disease, cattle were brought in and it’s been shown that actually on several occasions, those cattle brought bovine tuberculosis with them into areas which previously hadn’t had it, so this was rather ironic. Almost certainly a proportion of the increase in bovine tuberculosis after 2001 is the result of that restocking after foot-and-mouth disease. I think that the ecology of the assumption that badgers are always responsible for the cattle disease has got to be reviewed.”
Our biosecurity is extremely poor. In 2011, the European Commission considered our biosecurity practices in farming so dismal that it threatened to withdraw the £32 million annual funding (12) to combat bTB. That move saw Jim Pace (the then minister) hot footing it to Brussels to plead our case. He promised more rigorous biosecurity in return for the funding, but very little has changed. The EU confirmed the money was to eradicate bTB but no money was given for culling badgers.
We are opposed to the unscientific and wholly unnecessary badger cull, as the disease is in the herd and must be solved in the herd.
We object, on science and cost.
After extensive research, the RBCT trial concluded that “Culling badgers would have no significant impact on bTB in cattle". The costs are estimated at £28 million so far.
Badgers really are the scapegoats in this. The disease remains undetected in the herd. The inferior skin test doesn't detect TB at its latent stage so it can go undetected in cattle for at least a year, yet the cattle remain ‘infectious’ during that time.
The overspill from the cattle can infect domestic animals such as cats and dogs, wildlife such as deer and other farm livestock such as horses, pigs and goats amongst others.
The disease is not self sustaining in the wildlife but it is in the cattle.
The scientific evidence that has been accumulated by previous governments, Chief Scientists and world-renowned experts has consistently, over the last twenty years, concluded that culling badgers is not a solution or even part of the solution to the problem of bTB.
Wake up Defra, it's in the herd.
1. Bovine TB Time Line.
2. Randomised Badger Culling Trial. Final Report of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on Cattle TB. Read Report Here
3. Estimates of badger population sizes in the West Gloucestershire and West Somerset pilot areas. A report to Natural England - 22 February 2013.
4. Estimating the risk of cattle exposure to tuberculosis posed by wild deer relative to badgers in England and Wales. Read Report Here
5.Statement from the European Commission regarding an article in the Mail On Sunday on 21 October. There is no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.
'The European Commission was disappointed to see an article by Brian May in the Mail on Sunday on 21 October which quotes Georg Haeusler, chief adviser to the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Some of the quotes are out of context or inaccurate - and therefore misleading.
Vaccination of cattle against TB is forbidden under current EU rules agreed by all Member States, including the UK. This is because there is no effective test to tell the difference between vaccinated and infected animals, making it impossible to protect the food chain and identify which animals could be exported.
If such a test were to be developed and approved at EU and international levels – which would take time – the rules could be changed relatively quickly. But Mr Haeusler explained that this would be the responsibility of the Health Commissioner, who deals with vaccination issues, and who could also advise on the exact process and timing in this case.
The Commission provides substantial financial support to the approved UK bovine TB eradication programme. For 2012, EUR 31.2 million were allocated to implement a rapid eradication strategy. There is no EU financial support provided for the culling of badgers.'
6.Parliamentary briefing paper - Science & Environment.
7. The Cattle Book 2008 Descriptive statistics of cattle numbers in Great Britain on 1 June 2008: Density Maps.
8. European Commission Audit - audit was carried out in the UK from 5-16th September 2011. TB Eradication Programme. Read Report Here
9. Vaccination reduces the risk of unvaccinated badger cubs testing tuberculosis positive.
Read Report Here
Vaccination reduces the risk of unvaccinated badger cubs testing tuberculosis positive
10. Conversation in the House of Lords where Lord Krebs and Lord Knight of Weymouth – Hansard.
11. 'Bovine tuberculosis infection in wild mammals in the South-West region of England: A survey of prevalence and a semi-quantitative assessment of the relative risks to cattle'.
12. Final report of an audit carried out in the United Kingdom from 5th-16th September 2011 In order to evaluate the operation of the Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Programme.
13. TB skin test questioned after false results.
14. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Bovine TB - Key conclusions from the meeting of scientific experts. Held at Defra on 4th April 2011.
15. Illegal in the US to feed deer and cattle together for risk of bovine Tb transfer.
16. Scientist writes an open letter condemning the cull.
17. Despite no badgers having yet being killed under official sanction in Northern Ireland, as Ms O'Neill has acknowledged, the annual herd incidence has almost halved, from nearly 10% in 2002 to just over 5% on 30 September 2011.
18. Cattle movements the most significant factor in spread of bovine TB.
19. Stress prevents immune systems from working. A 3rd more females (in buffalo adult females stressed out the yearling females) and links with human stats.
20. Bovine tuberculosis in Europe from the perspective of an officially tuberculosis free country: trade, surveillance and diagnostics.
21. Durham University Paper.
22. Recording of Professor Atkins from Durham University
23. Police don’t want to police this, too expensive.
24. Herd size is a known risk factor for bTB (Denny and Wilesmith 1999, Olea-Popelka and others 2004, Reilly and Courtenay 2007); accordingly, direct standardisation was used to adjust for varying herd size (Dohoo et al., 2003). (Abernethy et al., 2013)
25. Slaughter Detection and pre movement Testing in Oreland.
26.Four Area Project.
27. Where is this?
28 . History of bTB – Defra.
29. HOUSE OF COMMONS. ORAL EVIDENCE TAKEN BEFORE THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, BOVINE TB VACCINATION, TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2013, BERNARD VAN GOETHEM, FRANCISCO REVIRIEGO, KOEN VAN DYCK AND JACQUELINE MINOR.
30. Incidents of M. bovis infection in non-bovine domestic animals & wild deer in GB confirmed by laboratory culture. http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/diseases/atoz/tb/documents/tb-otherspecies.pdf
31. Lord Krebs, who ran a ten-year review into whether culling could control bovine tuberculosis, said that the Government’s estimates had varied so wildly that under the previous target farmers would have been asked to shoot 144 per cent of the badgers in Gloucestershire. He said “To me what it says is that the practicality of killing 70 per cent is one question but the real question is how do they know what their starting number is?”
32. Professor Robbie McDonald, an author of the paper and now at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute, said: "This striking result in cubs shows a protective effect at the social group level and is important evidence that vaccination not only has a direct benefit to vaccinated badgers, but can also reduce the infectivity of TB within a badger social group that has been vaccinated."
33. World Health Organisation description of TB and how it is transmitted.
34. Neigbouring farms have different bTB.
35. End ban on hunting with dogs, urges Tory Environment Minister: Paterson makes his views clear on controversial subject.
36. In Wales the government have caged, trapped and vaccinated over 1,400 badgers. Evidence from a four year field study (9) shows that BCG vaccinations in badgers reduces the risk of infection to cubs. It is possible to vaccinate. It will not make matters worse and evidence to date suggest it has a positive effect. Myself and Brian May met with Christianne Glossop (Chief Vet of Wales) in London last month to discuss successes and failures of the vaccination program and how we may work with them on this project to improve and support it to its conclusion.
37. Defra graphs on bTB showing increase after foot and mouth
38. Conservative Animal Welfare - Statement on bTB.
40. Deep divisions in the badger cull.
41. ORAL VACCINE TELEGRAPH.
42. British cattle are moved annually; with over 13 million cattle movements.
43. Closely mirroring the historical rise in bTB cases is the rise in cattle movements, with 480,294 more cattle moved in 2010 than 2009 Cattle movements have more than quadrupled between 1999 (3,373,646) and 2010 (13,690,294) and have involved over 127million animals since 1998.
44. Oral vaccine Eamonn Gormley.
45. Details on Eamonn Gormley.
46. Swiss herd shown that BTB was endemic in herd and had been present for several years.
47. Byrne, A. W., Sleeman, D. P., O’Keeffe, J. & John, D., (2012a). The Ecology of the European Badger (Meles meles) in Ireland, a review. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 112B(1), pp. 105-132.
48. Man shot while hunting rabbits . Fell on his gun SHROPSHIRE.
49. Byrne, A. W. et al., (2012b). Impact of culling on relative abundance of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland. European Journal of Wildlife Research, pp. DOI 10.1007/s10344-012-0643-1.
50. More, S. J., (2005). Towards eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis in Ireland A critical review of progress, Dublin: Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis.
51. Griffin, J. M. et al., (2005). The impact of badger removal on the control of tuberculosis in cattle herds in Ireland. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 67, pp. 237-266.
52. Máirtín, D. Ó. et al., (1998). The effect of a badger removal programme on the incidence of tuberculosis in an Irish cattle population. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 34(1-6), pp. 47-56.
53. Sleeman, D.P., Davenport, J., More, S.J., Clegg, T.A., Collins, J.D., Martin, S.W., Williams, D.H., Griffin, J.M. and O’Boyle, I. (2009c). How many Eurasian Badgers (Meles meles) are there in the Republic of Ireland? European Journal of Wildlife Research 55, 333-44.
54. Eves, J.A., (1999). Impact of badger removal on bovine tuberculosis in east county Offaly. Irish Veterinary Journal 52, 199–203.
55. Eves, J.A., (1993). The East Offaly Badger Research project: an interim report. The Badger Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin (1993), pp. 166–173
56. Cheeseman, C. L., Jones, G. W., Gallagher, J. & Mallinson, P. J. (1981). The population structure, density and prevalence of tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) in badgers (Meles meles) from four areas in south-west England. J. Appl. Ecol. 18, 795–804.
57. Cheeseman, C. L., Mallinson, P. J., Ryan, J. & Wilesmith, J. W. (1993). Recolonisation by badgers in Gloucestershire. In The badger (ed. T. J. Hayden), pp. 78–93. Dublin, Ireland: Royal Irish Academy.
58. Tuyttens, F. A. M., Delahay, R. J., Macdonald, D. W., Cheeseman, C. L., Long, B. & Donnelly, C. A. (2000a). Spatial perturbation caused by a badger (Meles meles) culling operation: implications for the function of territoriality and the control of bovine tuberculosis Mycobacterium bovis. J. Anim. Ecol. 69, 815–828.
59. Tuyttens, F. A. M., Macdonald, D. W., Rogers, L. M., Cheeseman, C. L. & Roddam, A. W. (2000b). Comparative study on the consequences of culling badgers (Meles meles) on biometrics, population dynamics and movement. J. Anim. Ecol. 69, 567–580.
60. Macdonald, D. W., Riordan, P. & Mathews, F. (2006). Biological hurdles to the control of TB in cattle: a test of two hypotheses concerning wildlife to explain the failure of control. Biol. Conserv. 131, 268–286.
61. O'Corry Crowe, G., Hammond, R., Eves, J. & Hayden, T. J., (1996). The Effect of Reduction in Badger Density on the Spatial Organisation and Activity of Badgers (Meles meles) in Relation to Farms in Central Ireland. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy , 96(3), pp. 147-158.
62. Bourne, F. J. et al., (2007). TB policy and the ISG's findings. Veterinary Record , 161(18), pp. 633-635.
63. Donnelly, C.A., Woodroffe, R., Cox, D.R., Bourne, J., Gettinby, G., Le Fevre, A.M., Mclnerney, J.P., Morrison, W.I., (2003). Impact of localized badger culling on tuberculosis incidence in British cattle. Nature 426, 834– 837.
64. Woodroffe, R. et al., (2006). Effects of Culling on Badger Meles meles Spatial Organization: Implications for the Control of Bovine Tuberculosis. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43(1), pp. 1-10.
65. Sleeman, D. P. et al., (2009a). The effectiveness of barriers to badger (Meles meles) immigration in the Irish Four Area project. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 55(3), pp. 267-278.
66. Roper, T. J., (2010). Badger. 1st ed. London : Harper Collins.
67. Byrne, A. W. et al., (2012c). Population Estimation and Trappability of the European Badger (Meles meles) Implications for Tuberculosis Management. Plos One, 7(12), pp. 1-11.
68. Munoz–Igualada J, Shivik JA, Domınguez FG, Lara J, Gonzalez LM (2008). Evaluation of cage–traps and cable restraint devices to capture red foxes in Spain. J Wildl Manage 72: 830–836.
69. O’Flaherty, J., (2008). Value for Money and Policy Review Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Programme. 1996–2006. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
70. Farming after foot and Mouth.
71. 81%of the population are against the proposed culling of Badgers (Bow Group research 2012).
72. The Citizen newspaper poll found 90.2% were against the cull (4 Oct 2012).
73. Control of Bovine (bTB ) Cattle Biosecurity - Part 5 NFU Southwest
74. BTB remains in slurry for up to two years. M. bovis is expected to persist in slurry-treated soil for up to two years
75. M. bovis is expected to persist in slurry-treated soil for up to two years.
76. Bovine TB : a review of badger to cattle transmission.
77. 22% of new bTB cattle detected at slaughter.
78. TB Vaccination of Badgers www.bacvi.org.uk
79. The use of dogs and Defra.
80 .Cattle bTB and ferrets, 4 out of 80 foxes had btB. http://www.bovinetb.info/docs/johngallt_b_review9-04.pd
81. Paul R. Torgerson and David J. Torgerson stated in their paper ‘Public health and bovine tuberculosis: what’s all the fuss about?' READ HERE