on 20 December, 2017

Save Me Trust is appalled that a further 19,274 Badgers have been culled in 2017.

The continuation of the Badger cull policy raises concern not only in its operation but also in it projected outcomes. It is clear that

Bovine TB remains latent within the cattle herd, undiscovered by the currently licensed tests with the constant potential that infectious cattle will spread the disease to other cows within enclosed areas.

Today’s figures, released by DEFRA(1), reveal that DEFRA advised Natural England to reduce the min/max numbers of Badgers to be culled in all but one of the new cull zones in 2017. This supports our view that initial estimates of Badger populations within the cull zones are inaccurate preventing them from complying with their objective of reducing the population by 70%.

We are also concerned that only 74 of 19274 badgers killed were observed by Natural England staff being shot in 2017. An appallingly low 0.38% Of those 74, 8 were missed and one was hit but not retrieved. This means, potentially, around one in ten of all badgers shot have been missed and around 2000 badgers could have been shot and not retrieved were left to die a slow painful death 

We strongly disagree with the Chief Veterinary Officer’s plan to stop real time monitoring of the Badger culls as the methodology for culling is now, in his opinion, established, deferring the responsibility to Natural England for all future culls. The CVO also recommends that additional culls should be introduced in 2018 and beyond, each with a minimum culling period of four years. 

We believe the most revealing part of the Chief Vet’s statement (2) is the insistence that new, tighter, cattle controls are introduced simultaneously with the culls in all areas. We believe it is these regulations alone that will achieve any reductionof Bovine TB and not culling Badgers. The government has released no data to show the culls have had any impact on Bovine TB and after fours years you would expect to see a trend.

The Badger cull policy is highly emotive and divides farmers and the British public. The best available science does not support culling badgers. We know from our Farm Project that Bovine TB can be removed, even from chronic breakdown herds without killing and Badgers.

We are saddened and extremely disappointed by the figures released today but we will continue to stand up and protect Badgers until this cull policy has been stopped.

(3)The Brunton et al Report August 2017) referred to by DEFRA and the Chief Veterinary Officer, is no more than poor guess work and we are appalled it was given the light of day. Even the eminent scientists who put their name to it state "no conclusions can be drawn". It doesn't  comment on the biosecurity introduced in year two. It is not peer reviewed and after four years you would expect to see a trend emerging. Defra needs to stop producing data that is not worth the paper it is written on and actually publish the facts. The cull has failed farmers, cattle and badgers. It's ill conceived, full of bad practice and we need too move on together to tackle the real enemy - Bovine TB. 

References

1. You can read DEFRA's Badger Cull figures here

2. You can read the Chief Veterinary Officer's advice here

3. You can read the Brunton et al report Aug 2017 (Referred to by DEFRA and the CVO) here

 

 

 

DEFRA PRESS RELEASE 21ST DECEMBER 2017

MORE FREQUENT CATTLE TESTING ANNOUNCED TO BOOST FIGHT AGAINST BOVINE TB

  • Six-monthly testing to be introduced for cattle in high risk areas to catch disease more quickly
  • Research shows badger control measures have reduced disease in Gloucestershire and Somerset
  • Grants for badger vaccination schemes available

Bovine TB will be caught and stamped out more quickly in England’s cattle herds under plans to strengthen testing in the highest-risk areas of the country. Six monthly routine tests will be introduced for all herds in the High Risk Area – mainly the South West and parts of the Midlands – with annual tests preserved for herds that have gone five or more years without disease, and farms accredited under the Cattle Herd Certification Standards (CHeCS) scheme, requiring tougher biosecurity measures to be observed. Grants to vaccinate badgers in the Edge Area of the country – the ‘buffer’ between the High Risk and Low Risk Areas – are also available now for schemes to run next year. These moves are part of the government’s comprehensive 25-year plan to eradicate bovine TB in England and come as recent peer-reviewed research shows badger control in Gloucestershire (58%) and Somerset (21%) – where culling began in 2013 – has contributed to significant reductions in the disease in herds. Results published today also confirm that all 19 licensed intensive badger control operations achieved the badger population reductions needed to realise disease control benefits. Farming Minister George Eustice said: “Our comprehensive strategy to eradicate bovine TB is delivering results. We are introducing more frequent testing of cattle to find and stamp out disease more quickly than ever before, to add to our tough restrictions on cattle movements to stop disease spreading. We are also addressing the disease in wildlife and it is encouraging to see early research shows badger control is having the expected results in driving down levels of TB.” Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: “This year’s results show that badger control can be delivered successfully on a much wider scale, with all 11 new areas delivering effective operations. Expansion into further areas, alongside our robust cattle movement and testing regime, will allow us to achieve and maintain long term reductions in the level of TB across the South West and Midlands where the disease is widespread.” In the Edge Area of the country, testing frequency will become more risk-based from January 2018, with more herds undertaking six-monthly testing. This will help vets identify and address outbreaks more quickly, helping to stop the spread of disease to new areas. The government is offering grants under the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, which recommences in 2018 and aims to create a buffer zone between the highest- and lowest-risk disease areas of England. The scheme is open for the first round of applications until 19 January and successful applicants will receive a government grant for at least 50% of their costs from a fund worth £700,000 over four years. Dealing with Bovine TB in England costs taxpayers over £100 million a year, required the culling of more than 29,000 cattle in 2016 and causes devastation and distress for rural communities. Other measures announced today as part of the government’s 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB are: New compensation arrangements for pigs, sheep, goats, deer and camelids which have to be slaughtered because of bovine TB. The changes will come into force on 2 January 2018 and will bring statutory compensation in line with arrangements in Scotland and Wales. Reduced compensation for animals which are unclean when presented for slaughter. Delayed slaughter of pregnant cattle which test positive for bTB. Farmers can also access practical guidance on the TB Hub website, which brings advice from farming experts, vets and government together in one place. NOTES TO EDITORS The recent research paper referred to is Brunton  (2017) Assessing the effects of the first 2 years of industry-led badger culling in England on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle in 2013-2015. Ecology Evolution. 7 (18). 7213-7230  Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme 2 (BEVS 2) Bovine TB: summary of badger control monitoring during 2017 In September, the government awarded a contract to the Origin Group to deliver a new bTB advisory service. The easily accessible service offers clear, practical advice to help farmers in High Risk and Edge Areas to protect their herds from the disease and manage the impacts of a TB breakdown on their farm