Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"Tuberculosis and the .................?"

Below extracts from a leaflet which fluttered across my desk, a PR exercise for farmers and the public from another Ministry of Agriculture  in another country. Same problem, different solution.  They have a headstart though, as they still have a Minister of Agriculture.  Our chap, the delightful Ben, has quaintly retitled his role as only concerning 'Fisheries and Conservation. '
Guess the country. Guess the wildlife source.  (No prizes!)
What is TB?
  • An infection caused by a bacterium
  • TB may infect your cattle
  • TB is also found in feral ...........s,  deer, ferrets and wild cats.       

Why is TB important?

  • TB can cause a loss of farm income
  • The freedom to move cattle when a herd is placed under restriction
  • Infection can cause production losses
  • TB threatens exports
  • TB is a threat to your health

What's the big deal about .............s?

  • .............s are the main source of TB in ..   .., they act as a reservoir of the disease
  • .............s are hard to control because they live in a wide variety of areas and are nocturnal
  • Young ........s migrate and carry the disease with them
  • Not all .........s have TB, but they are very susceptible to infection

How do .........s become infected?

  • From other infected ...........s
  • Contact with other infected species, farmed or feral

How can I identify a .......... with TB? 

  • They are nocturnal, but if sick may wander around in the day
  • Unusual swellings or open sores
  • Look thin and sick

How can my cattle get TB from infected ..........s?

  • Stock are curious and will sniff TB infected ..........s
  • Tb infected ...........s will sleep in hay barns and spread the disease from open sores

How do you get rid of Tb in the wild ...........s?

  • By eradicating known TB infected  ......... populations
  • By keeping ............. numbers down    
  • Control must be intensive and kept up for a number of years

What is being done to control the disease in ..........s?

  • Large scale control programmes are being undertaken in areas where farming is threatened by Tb infected ..........s

Who is responsible for Tb ............ control?

  • You are. On farm control is important
  • Also the Animal Health Board
  • And Department of Conservation

What do I do if I suspect Tb in a ...........?

  • Kill it immediately and contact a veterinary officer
  • If this is not possible, burn or bury the carcass.


So for UK farming it's very good news that our DEFRA has formed a 'partnership' to exchange information on bovine Tb with for example New Zealand, who have a similar problem with the Bush Possum.

When an area in NZ is found to have a Tb problem as defined by the cattle skin test ( yup the same one we all use), the area is immediately 'zoned'.  Now we've heard  John Bourne talk of zoning, but the difference here is that while our 'partners' test all the cattle in the area, and then drop 10.80 poison pellets from light aircraft to sort out their wildlife reservoir (napalm in a forest in Northern Oz I'm told) , Bourne just wants to nail our cow's hooves to the floor - and leave the badgers to re infect them.

The area to be targeted does a big PR promotion to explain the aircraft, what they're doing and why. Farmers are warned to lock up dogs, cats, kids and grannies, and the leaflet stresses that NZ only use 'qualified pilots' - so that's alright.  The roads have  warning signs and ribbons flutter in the trees to designate the edge of the 'drop zone' .  All they need is a bar-be-que.  Anyone for baked possum?

While our boffins are considering  sharing  resources, should we become a Republic? No, not that sort of republic. Just one without a 'King'. Or to be precise Dr. Elaine of the  National Federation of Badger Groups.

Could we export her undoubted energy to form a 'Possum Protection Society' down under?  That would even things up a bit.






Anonymous said...

On a recent visit to New Zealand it was certainly interesting to see their approach to solving their problems with the bush possum who they see as a threat to their environment because of their numbers and the diseases they carry plus they eat the young growth of native trees.
All farmers are paid for every possum pelt they get and considerable encouragement is given to farmers to shoot them.
In what they call 'environmental' shops across NZ you can buy possum fur hats, gloves and scarves all sorts of jumpers knitted with possum wools to name just a few. Indeed l purchased a lovely hat and scarf and was encouraged to do so by the people of NZ who feel that l was supporting them and their government who were trying to get rid of their terrible possum problem.
I wonder what it would be like to wear a badger hat?

Matthew said...

Badger products - now there's a thought!

We import shaving gentlemen's shaving brushes from Russia - Why? We could have home grown.
Or could we import them on the hoof so to speak? Joining the queue of asylum seekers with brushes intact! Maybe a tad singed if they lived near Chenobyl, or glowing? A brush you could see in the dark.

The possibilities are endless. Get Jamie Oliver on board, and we could promote badger fritters, badger kebabs and badger burgers.

Only from a sustainable healthy badger of course.