Farmers Guardian reported this week the sad story of a Beef Shorthorn herd struck with bTb.
This breed is a designated 'Rare Breed' and is native to this country. But the loss to that breed from this small closed herd raises the question "Do we have the right to award one animal higher 'rights' than another?".
The owner of this small herd had just 30 cows, which graze 180 acres together with 150 head of sheep.
Both units are self contained and effectively 'closed' to outside diseases and contacts. The herd lost 7 cattle.
The Beef Shorthorn breed lost 7 individuals from its dwindling genetic base.
The owner has explained in a letter to Mr. Bradshaw that "to fence the farm would involve 6 miles of fencing which would have to accomodate public footpaths and roads, and even if this were possible, as a member of the local badger protection group, it is not what she wanted for 'her' badgers". Restricted food and water supplies would effectively starve the members of 4 setts which surround her farm.
So she has asked Mr. Bradshaw for his advice.
The authors of this site offer no comment on that course of action, other than to commend her optimism.
But we would point out that as the Minister's answers to PQ's have shown, he knows exactly what the problem is, and how to solve it. We have reminded readers of Ben's answers on numerous occasions, and will continue to do so.
He knows that the Clean Ring strategy worked.
He told us "no other contemporous change was identified" other than a thorough clearance of infected badgers at Thornbury, which kept the cattle clear for over 10 years.
He confirmed the infectivety of badger's urine at 300,000 units of tb bacteria in just 1ml. And he told us just how little was needed to infect a cow - even a rare breed Beef Shorthorn. Just 70 units or 0.03ml. or a sniff from an inqusitive cow.
Our Ben confirmed how long the bacteria can survive in setts, on grassland and in cattle sheds - some of this excellent work being done by the lovely Elaine King.
And although he is still awaiting (hiding behind?) the 'science' of Bourne's Krebs' trial, he confirmed that the traps used in the trial only accounted for 80 per cent of their target group, and often as little as 30 percent.
But although Ben seems happy to cough up taxpayers' money mending the 57 percent of traps that have been damaged and replacing the 1827 that have gone AWOL, he's a little less eager to compensate farmers - even for rare breed genetics - when their cattle encounter m.bovis in badger pee. He's pegged the compulsory purchase budget for the next 2 years, despite expecting 20 percent per annum increases in dead cattle. (It's up 25 percent actually, but our Ben insists it's down 14 percent).
His accepts that his policies have rendered cattle farmers uninsurable.
He tells us that bTb is endemic in badgers - even those moved around the countryside under a code of practise that "Defra neither drew up nor approve of", from 'sanctuaries' , the location of which he neither knows. (nor cares?)
He confirms that the live badger test is rubbish with low sensitivity on a negative result.
And finally he tells us that yes, we have an epidemic of Tb raging through our cattle herds.
Is anyone surprised?
So having answered 538 Parliamentary Questions on bTb, (archived on this site) the Minister for Conservation and Fisheries knows exactly what to do to sort out the problem. And having lost a quarter of her small herd of rare breed Beef Shorthorns to bTb, even as a member of her local badger group, so does their owner.
Farmers - including the owner of this small herd - value a balanced ecology, which includes healthy badgers. But the badger has been awarded so many 'rights' there are not enough left for the rest of that ecology - in this case rare breed Beef Shorthorns - so will our Ben, answer the lady's question, and offer his 'advice'?
Don't hold your breath.