Singing from the same hymn sheet as the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management (see post 'Badgers must be Controlled' below), this week the NFU presented its Policy Statement on Tb to the minister at the Royal Show, Stoneleigh.
The title of the Telegraph's piece (below) by environment correspondent Charles Clover, we can find nowhere in the document at all. Farmers are not calling for a "Total Badger Cull" - far from it. The document calls for;
" an environmentally sustainable policy involving management of the population, with intensive measures aimed at diseased populations which do not threaten the thriving badger population as a whole."
But scary headlines are there to sell newspapers.
The strategy involves a number of measures to be taken concurrently which include:
* Targeted area clearances in which diseased badger populations are present (farms, parishes, districts). Assessment of setts to establish their disease status, and appropriate action taken on those found to be inhabited by infectious badgers. Repeat clearance operations and maintainance of both areas through frequent follow-up operations. This to ensure that the wildlife reservoir of bTb is much reduced, and allow test-and-slaughter policies for livestock to remove disease from the area. Measures to rely on gas as a culling method.
*Lifting of the moratorium, implemented in 1997 while awaiting the results of the RBCT , on issuing licenses for disease control purposes under Section 10 of the 1992 Badger Protection Act.
*A general reduction of badger numbers irrespective of livestock disease. This measure as involving the repeal of the 1992 Act, and replacing it with new legislation which protected the badger from inhumane treatment, while making provision for sustainable mangement of its population.
The document emphasises that contrary to the headline on our post below, the NFU is not advocating widespread extermination of badgers. They wish to see healthy cattle and badger populations, and a corresponding removal of diseased individuals.
They also stress that any policy or combination of policies should be undertaken after thorough risk assessment, and involve the expertise of the State Veterinary Service, Defra Wildlife teams, farmers and landowners in joint initiative.
The whole Policy document can be viewed at: www.nfuonline.com (click Royal Show link)