Tuesday, July 05, 2005

NFU Strategy - For Disease Reduction through Sustainable Wildlife Management

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)


Anonymous said...

Yet more spin and nonsense from the others of this Blog.

A quick look at the NFU's report (many thanks for providing the link) and I found the following paragraph (para 26, under the heading 'area clearance'):-

"Area clearance using gas would involve removing badgers from an area, where disease was found to be present in the species, rather than specifically targeting diseased animals. The area could be a farm, parish or district and will vary from region to region." end

In other words, healthy and diseased badgers would be TOTALLY removed from an area, possibly as big as a district. Some Districts are rather big (eg - North Devon)

The others of this Blog have failed to include this option in their original post, prefering instead to highlight the other options proposed by the NFU.

The NFU have proposed FOUR OPTIONS - the Blog authors have only listed THREE of these ('taregted area clearance', 'lifting the Badgers Act moratorium', and a 'general reduction of badger numbers'.

The authors fail to highlight the option (listed as the first option in the NFU paper) which involves the TOTAL removal of badgers (sick and healthy) from an area (possibly as big as a District !

Charles Clover's report was correct.

Matthew said...

We highlighted a short part of the executive summary of the NFU's proposals.
The detail of the 17 page report explains more.
For the link - you're welcome.

For 'spin' and 'nonsense' - lose lorry loads of home bred cattle from home bred (closed) herds which have bought in none, and we think that description belongs elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have every sympathy with any farmer who goes down with this disease through no fault of his/her own.

I do suggest you read the whole report before posting misleading (deliberate or otherwise) Blogs. The TOTAL eradication option proposed by the the NFU makes a mockery of the often repeated claim by the NFU, other farming organisations, and the authors of this board, that they want to see healthy cattle and badgers co-existing. It appears to me that the NFU have listed their FOUR options (not three as you have highlighted) in the order or preference (option 4 - 'general reduction of badger numbers' is clearly their least prefered option and they claim it could not be supported in isolation of either a targeted or total cull).

It also worries me that the NFU are unable to draw upon any scientific evidence to justify the humaneness of their proposed gassing approach.

Matthew said...

We can't speak for the NFU, (most of us don't even belong to their organisation) but thought their policy was reasonably comprehensive in stressing risk assessment and involvement of SVS vets and wildlife teams to apply an appropriate strategy to a particular problem. It is a mistake to concentrate on one part of a longish document.

We didn't highlight RTA surveys as part of the policy, (which are vital) or Snares which are dreadful, and probably made less (in your opinion) of their 'Area Clearance' - which we did mention as being farm, parish or district -because it just won't happen.

From farmers who helped frame the original strategy, we are told there came a complete no-no to this on many grounds, including public perception but mainly because the endemic disease in badgers is now so widespread it's difficult to find the edge. That is, where to stop. They preferred the 'identify healthy, active sett' route, either with PCR or 'gamekeeper / countryman' experience - and gas the rest. This works on the basis of the individuals the badgers have excluded, the really infectious problem ones - a point covered in 'Targeted clearance' part of the paper, and would achieve a lowering of population density at the same time.

Strangely we hear today that Bradshaw asked that the paper should not be released at all yet. But the mainstream press had it, and as we found, it is on the NFU website....

As we have said many times on this blog, there is a whole industry dependant and parasitic on keeping the badger groups and cattle farmers apart on this - to the detriment of both badgers and cattle. And the (premature?) launching of this Policy paper, with the emphasis misplaced, has all the hallmarks of a stitchup.

Anonymous said...

Farmers have yet again been let down by their so-called leaders.

The NFU document certainly raised a few laughs!

It is completely unsubstantiated by any references to research or data to back up the proposals.

No-one with any intelligence will give it any credence.

Ordinary working farmers are being sold down the river by the NFU and their big business controllers.

They are blatently seeking to alienate the public - who, like it or not, love 'their' cute and cuddly furry wildlife - and the NFU presumably have some hidden agenda to eliminate small farm enterprises and let the big boys take over the industry totally

George said...

I do not think anybody is calling for total eradication of badgers from areas (and districts probably means a larger area than a parish, not an actual District, it is scale that they are illustrating). It is not a practical proposition for a start, and nobody would want to do it anyway (least of all the politicians). Reduction is the word.

There is, of course, evidence from several areas (Thornbury, Steeple Leaze, East Offaly, the Four Areas in Ireland) that reduction of the badger population reduces the TB problem in cattle.

'Incidentally, I hope the ‘cute and cuddly furry wildlife’ don’t give them TB, a very real risk if you get too close.

Winston said...

'Sympathy' does not stop tuberculosis ravishing herds of cattle who have bought in none.

'Cute and cuddly, furry' wildlife - but with endemic tuberculosis, that their protectors just failed to mention???

Grow up.