Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Defra's Badger Road Kills - A 'Study' in Constructive Ignorance.

In the post below we described the crazy and shambolic situation of Defra's refusal to test badger carcasses for Tb if they had been found in fields and barns, only picking up 'road kills' in very limited designated areas. The results were then denied to farmers concerned, and any action which may have been taken to clear up confirmed Tb infection prior to cattle becoming affected was of course completely out of the question, the ISG (Independent Scientific Group) and John Bourne sitting on their results like a broody hen on her eggs - or in this case the illustrious Professor's pension.

Since 2002, Defra have postmortemed over 3200 badger carcasses, and sources 'within the State Veterinary Service' say that maps showing the location of grossly infected badger carcasses, correlate exactly with areas of endemic and prolonged cattle Tb.

So far, however Defra has resisted all requests to release, and more important to act on the information these results show. A Defra spokesman, (still hiding behind the diminuitive John Bourne) said that "If farmers had access to these maps, illegal killing of badgers might be encouraged".

Would that be before or after these heavily diseased creatures had caused the slaughter of half the Mile's closed herd on the Roseland? Or their 6 year drip feed of infection into the Uglow's herd in North Cornwall? Mr. Uglow has found 3 dead in his yards - so far. Our Derbyshire 'Matthew', trying to produce organic Angus beef, found dead badgers on his land, and was warned not to touch or repair stiles in his walls without wearing full protective clothing. Our Staffordshire 'Matthew' also found dead badgers prior to his Tb breakdown. He saw them in the daytime, sick and so horribly affected by Tb that he felt physically sick. "If I allowed a dog to get into that state, I'd be prosecuted", he said.

But as we said in the post below, forget dead or sick badgers in fields and buildings - which vets tell us is a classic precurser to cattle Tb within months. Wrong carcass, wrong place. It's road kills Defra want. And even then they refuse to release results, or act on them preferring to hide behind the ministerial smoke screen of Krebs. The very fact that Defra are refusing to release these results suggest that they confirm every other study, trial and report commissioned into bTb. That is that a substansive reservoir of the disease exists and is growing within the badger population.

A 'study' in constructive ignorance then?

3 comments:

George said...

Road casualty badgers were picked up for years before the ISG was invented. Dead badgers on farms were picked up too. There must be a huge store of results somewhere for them.

I believe that sometimes infected badgers were found where there were no infected badgers. In a way that is even more worrying than finding them where there are infected cattle especially when they were found in places like Hereford and Worcester.

I know there is a problem there now, but there wasn't then. It seems to suggest that the problem was already there, it just hadn't got into the cattle then. Cumbria had the odd infected badger too, years ago, I understand. I wonder how many other places that you would find infected badgers if you looked for them?

Matthew said...

Is it just sheer density of population then (badgers?) that is the trigger for cattle tb? The more grossly infected badgers, the more infective material in the environment?

We are reporting on this site, multiple sightings of badger carcasses, both road kill and in fields in Cumbria's Kendal area.
This is something the farmers have not seen before, especially in these numbers. The Ministry refused to collect, as they were not in a 'designated' area.
Wrong place - wrong carcass, and why look? Don't seek = won't find.

George said...

As I meant to say, sometimes infected badgers were found where there were no infected cattle (sorry about the typo), so badgers + TB = infected cattle doesn’t always happen. It could just be badger population density, but I expect that there are lots of factors involved. The investigations carried out as part of the Krebs Trial might give us some answers. I hope so, anyway.

The Kendal badger carcasses are a bit worrying – work done in Gloucestershire years ago suggested that many of the badgers found dead in an ifected area had died of bovine TB infection. I have heard that that was still true just before the beginning of the Krebs Trial.