Two stories this week.
Firstly a report from the Mammal Society which has been recording the expansion / decline of British mammal populations for the last 10 years.
Otters are up, dormice down, rabbits rampant and Badger numbers almost doubled.
The society produced its first report a decade ago, and has repeated the excercise using the information from 'professional conservationists' and 'amateur enthusiasts'. Mammal society chairman Michael Woods, gave the reason for the spectacular rise in population of species including the polecat which has enjoyed a spectacular renaisssance, to the lack of control by gamekeepers. "The number of gamekeepers has declined dramatically, and (some mammals) have responded by expanding their range" he told BBC News teams.
That should be music to the ears of the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management, who are calling for just such control of dominant species, (badgers, foxes etc) for the benefit of ecology as a whole and the health and welfare of their own populations and others affected by their endemic diseases as well.
For more see www.vet-wildlifemanagement.org.uk
Farmlife magazine (November issue) told a very sad story of rare breed White Park cattle which had reacted to the Tb test and gone for slaughter.
Andrew Biggs is a Devon vet, with many cattle herds on his books. He is vice chairman of the BCVA (British Cattle Veterinary Association)
"Twenty years ago it was a rare event for a farm to have a Tb reactor and the farms were on a 3 year testing regime. Today if a farm has a clear test, it is a rare event and farms are on annual, and 60 day testing."
Mr. Biggs describes the frustration of farmers and the economic effect on their businesses, particularly a small farm dependent on selling younger stock for further finishing, which is then unable to do so. (Also farms which are dependent on selling breeding stock)
He continues: "Vaccination for cattle is still many years in the future. Unfortunately vaccination doesn't prevent animals excreting the bacteria and there are technical issues yet to be solved. It is likely that a vaccine for badgers could be available more quickly, but there are real problems with delivery and timing. Cubs are infected while still underground. So a key question is, whether badger vaccination would significantly reduce Tb in cattle".
"There are only 700 White Park cattle in the world. We look after a farm with 10 per cent of the breeding females . These animals are as bio secure as farm animals can be and are managed with great care. It is a huge disappointment that this herd contracted Tb and that rare animals have been slaughtered".
A"huge disappointment" . That's putting it mildly. We would say a disgrace. And a totally avoidable disgrace at that, and a reflection on all those who say they care, say they are horrified at the waste of good cattle and actually do - very little to alter the situation by using the knowledge they have in a more pro active way.
SW regional director of the NFU Anthony Gibson, was reported in the Western Morning News recently to be very enthusiastic about correspondance he'd received on soil minerals as a Tb cureall.
Nice try. When the Director of the Communicable Disease section of Public Health offers a Tb 'at risk' patient an (organic) carrot plus 2 selenium tablets and a muliti vit injection, we'll believe it.
Get a grip. Get real. Tb is a nasty infectious disease of many species. It is endemic in badgers and their increasing numbers means that it is spilling over into cattle (which we finding because they are tested for it), deer and domestic moggies (see The cat's out of the Bag).
Ultimately human beings are very much at risk.
Anyone for a multivit?