Sunday, June 19, 2005

National Badger Day - A vet's view.

Adding his comment to the population explosion 'enjoyed' by the UK's badgers, David Denny MRCVS writes:

"Badgers, once a rarity in the countryside have increased in such numbers, that they are now relatively common. These fascinating creatures are becoming more and more popular with the public. This population explosion can be attributed to badgers being made a protected species in the 1970's - in an attempt to outlaw obnoxious badger baiting, together with an increase in maize growing - maize is their favourite food, (after peanuts) - by farmers.

Unfortunately, many badgers - up to 80 percent - particularly in the western UK have Tb. Infected badgers will suffer for up to three years, before dying slowly from starvation.

There is no treatment. Since humans can catch Tuberculosis, great care should be taken when handling badgers, dead or alive, - or even where they have been.

This explosion in badger numbers coincides with a dramatic increase in cattle with Tb. Consequently thousands, many heavily pregnant, are compulsorily slaughtered monthly, in an attempt to contain the disease. Controversially, farmers claim that badgers are infecting their cattle. The National federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) claim badgers are innocent.

In an attempt to settle the 'argument' the government commissioned the Independent Kreb's trial which involves trapping and culling badgers. Why, if the NFBG are so convinced that badgers are innocent, are they sabotaging this trial, by wrecking traps, relocating badgers and intimidating those involved?

It is hardly the behaviour of those defending the innocent?"

David Denny has first hand experience 'in the field' of the scourge of tuberculosis, both in the badger population and it's spill over into his client's cattle herds, all 5 species of wild deer and increasingly now into cats, both feral and domestic. He replied to Ben Bradshaw's slippery and shameful letter to Margaret Miles (see post below) as follows:

"It is both naive and hypocritical of the Minister, Ben Bradshaw to claim that a cull of badgers would 'result in some healthy badgers being killed'. Thousands of cattle a month are being compulsorily slaughtered as a result of failing their (Tb) test. Only a few of these cattle actually have Tb, the others being perfectly healthy." (Here we would explain again, that the intradermal skin test, used all over the world in line with OIE (Office of International Epizootics) and EU regulations, does not indicate full blown Tb in cattle. It flags up an immune response in the skin to the animals' exposure to Tb bacteria - bacteria which in a closed herd like Margaret Miles' should not be there at all. And we would also take the opportunity to thank Ben for his answers to PQ's (archived) that in the absence of a wildlife reservoir, all countries control Tb with this skin test and slaughter of any reactors to it.)

Mr.Denny continues, "It is only common sense (since when did that come into it? - ed.) that it cannot be in the interests of a healthy badger population to have Tb in their midst. Badgers with Tb (that's up to 80% of them) eventually die after several months from starvation."

"The problem lies with the far too successful lobbying of Ministers and Professors alike, by Dr. Elaine King - the Chief Executive of the NFBG, claiming the badger's innocence. What are the motives of these 'badger protection groups', when they subject badgers to this unecessary suffering?"

At the 'sharp end' - that is in the fields and farmland of the western UK, the badgers are we see are indicative of a thoroughly diseased population.
Often crawling around in broad daylight, they are emaciated, mangy, abscessed and distressed. They are also highly infectious to many other species with which they, or their body fluids have contact. National Badger Day? With library pictures of bright eyed bushy tailed shiny badgers? Tell it as it is Elaine. Why should farmers be the only ones to experience the suffering caused by your 'industry'?

We want to share the result of your lobbying, on this most loved of British mammals. Pictures of diseased and suffering badgers - in the raw.

Bring it on.


George said...

I understand that in some parts of the South West many infected badgers may appear quite healthy, and no TB can be seen when they are opened up. They grow TB from samples from these animals, though, and some are excreting TB, so they can infect other animals, and may live like this for several years.

Matthew said...

... may live like this for several years.

We've heard Dr. Cheeseman of 'Badger Heaven' - Woodchester Park - say for up to 8 years.
Dr. Clifton-Hadley told us that this is why the badger is such a successful host of Tb, it can survive, maintain body weight and breed while all the time shedding Tb.
But you're right, it doesn't 'appear' to be suffering until the last stages of the disease. When there were not so many badgers in that state, it was possible to ignore, but the editors of this site, from Cumbria, through Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leics, Worcester, Gloucester and Devon / Cornwall have all seen these 'end results' on their own patch in the last few years.

Many of us are also involved with rural tourism. we have a 'Matthew' in the Derbyshire Peak district, and 2 contributers in the SW. So we are concerned that the public - our visitors and guests - will 'see what we're seeing', and nice, it is not.