"Sick Badgers are Shot - 5 years clear in Devon's worst Tb hotspot"
We told the story of farmer Bryan Hill's strategy for clearing Tb (archived on this site) and it's probably timely to update the story. Veterinary surgeons in mid- Devon tell us that up to 60 percent (Yes that's 60 not 16) of their cattle farmers are now under Tb restriction. But not Mr. Hill, nor many of his neighbours. In the late 90's Bryan warned the ministry of the population explosion of badgers in the area. The warnings were ignored.
"In 1998, we did not have Tb in this area", he said, "but we started to find dead badgers in the sheds. In the spring of 1999, we were one of 3 farms to go under tb restriction. But within eighteen months another 19 farms were affected."
After the devastation caused by BSE and FMD, Bryan Hill told Ministry vets and John Bourne who visited the farm, that he was not putting up with this (Tb) , when it was controllable. An enthusiastic countryman and ecologist, neither was he prepared to see badgers suffering - as they were doing. We described his 'strategy' in the earlier 'Silver bullet' post, and Bryan has continued 'managing' all his wildlife whether it's deer, raptors or badgers. Using the Protection of Badgers Act 'mercy killing', Brian watches for badgers excluded from a social group. He monitors their whereabouts in what he calls 'hotel setts', single hole refuges left for this purpose. If those setts become active he watches for the 'health' of the occupant, and if it appears in distress or bears the unmistakeable signs of Tb, he shoots it.
"I had another clear Tb test a few weeks ago" he says, " and that's over 5 years clear in a badger / tb hotspot - so make of that what you will".
We would also point out that Bryan's 'strategy' hasn't cost the taxpayer a brass farthing. He has not eradicated badgers, his badgers are alive and well, healthy and active. Aware of endemic tb in the badger population, it's the ones THEY exclude that he targets, now the farms' population is under control.
Bryan has put it to Defra that Devon and Cornwall (and the rest of the country) could be clear of tb in a very short time, beleiving the problem to be a 'political one'.
He comments "just because a badger is protected, would you let it go out and suffer unreasonably?" and "if we are advised to wear a face mask and gloves, to handle them when they are dead, how much worse is it when they are alive?. They are passing on a disease which causes suffering and are starved into a slow death".
Although frustrated by the current political situation which is not controlling tb, Bryan is adamant that his 'strategy' is working and he cites non other than our own Dr. Flat Earth King for inspiration and guidance.
"Dr. King, the CEO of the National Federation of Badger Groups has said herself that she has taken suffering badgers to the vets to be put down. What I'm doing is no different. By being vigilant and sensible - I have dealt with it. "
5 years clear in a Tb hotspot. He certainly has.