In the first three months of 2005, cattle slaughtered as Reactors, Dangerous contacts or Inconclusives after a Tb test leapt by a staggering 29.5 percent compared with 2004.
You will remember of course that our number- crunching Minister of Fisheries and Conservation in the last government, (Rear-Admiral Ben) tried to tell the electorate and parliament that the bTb 'epidemic' had plateaued - compared with 2003 that is. Which is the very thing his department told everyone else not to do. Compare with 2003 that is, or 2002 either, because of FMD in 2001, the following years were absolutely 'not to be used for comparative purposes'. And yup - as we've pointed out many times on this blog, our Ben went and did just that. And then tried to tell us it was under control.
Well it isn't.
Figures now released (and available on the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk) show a huge rise in cattle slaughtered, and also in herds under restriction Jan - March 2005. Glos., Devon, Hereford & Worcs. and Cornwall all have between 11 and 15 percent (of herds registered) under restriction because of a reactor found at TT testing. Wiltshire and Somerset are both in excess of 5 percent.
In a letter to the Daily Telgraph May 6th. Cornish farmer Margaret Miles, of St. Mawes described watching Tb creep into the Roseland peninsular towards her closed herd. She tells readers that since 1966, the herd has bought in no dairy replacements, only a stock bull once every 10 years or so. Four in 40 years. Geographically the farm has a secure border on 3 sides so thought the herd was fairly safe. Not any more. At a routine (annual) test last October reactors was found, since when this herd has lost 40 percent of its cattle in successive 60 day tests over the past six months. And no doubt contributes to the figures quoted above. (The last purchased bull had been on the farm for his allotted 10 year span, and had been tested every 2 years and then annually- all clear. Last summer 5 or 6 dead badgers were found on the farm.)
Ms. Miles has calculated that based on the this spring's figures from Defra, and if no action is taken on the wildlife reservoir, within 6 years ALL of Cornwall's herds will be under restriction.
As Glos. and Devon are actually worse than Cornwall, with a higher percentage of herds under restriction - that situation shouldn't take so long for them.
In 1986, GB had less than 100 herds under restriction, and were mortified to have slaughtered 686 cattle - in a whole year. At the end of March 2005, 6,334 herds were under movement restriction and in just 3 months Defra slaughtered 8,429 cattle.
Well done Ben. What a legacy. And despite your slippery pole tactics - yup, you've got the problem back in your 'new' job. Welcome back, Captain Ben.