Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ring 'a ring a' "Rosies"... this case our own Rosie Woodroffe, late of the unlamented RBCT, and now perching in the USA. Dr, or now Prof. Woodroffe has headed a team of recycled and predominantly British acedemics who have taken the first year results of Krebs together with the computerised and entirely preventable carnage of FMD and added them up to produce - well not a lot really.

But true to form, the Badger Trust has stormed into the fray asserting that 'New American Research' shows cattle gave Tb to badgers.

Covered at length in the Western Morning News, (link: we would point out (with respect of course) that this paper is not 'new', neither is it 'research' and it most certainly is not 'American'. (That is 'paper' as in Rosie Woodroofe et al's latest offering from the scientific TB magic circle - not the Western Morning News)

The full text of the paper is at:

Briefly, the contributers have taken 2001 as a year in which little TB testing was carried out, added some extraordinarily vague figures on badger infection before and after that year, and using the computer modelling now famous for removing 11 million animals completely unecessarily in FMD, assumed that cattle passed Tb to badgers. Simple really.

That the removal of those 11 million animals, mainly cattle and sheep, caused total disruption to the ecology of badger habitat as well - seems to have escaped their limited vision. Or maybe it was not computer compatible, and so didn't happen.

We have pointed out before, and parliamentary questions confirmed that badgers are totally dependent on the 'habitat richness' provided by - cattle. The dungpats, placentas, still born (and not so stillborn) lambs and the the crops grown to support them, are the equivalent of 'Badger Macdonalds to meles meles. And for sure, when those 11 million animals were slaughtered, badger habitat changed. No maize crops, long grass, no dung pats to encourgae worms to the surface and shed loads of disinfectant. In fact very little farming at all took place in the areas badly hit by FMD, as shell shocked farmers struggled with teams of white coated Defra 'inspectors' to cleanse and disinfect their farms and rebuild their shattered lives.

So what of the wildlife, and in particular the badgers at this time? Farmers involved in the carnage tell us that their farms became 'death valley'. No wildlife except a very few deer remained, and certainly no badgers. They moved. They trundled off to find the nearest cattle. And the food and dungpats and everything else they were used to predating on for their survival. But when they arrived at the 'D' notice farms on the edge of culled areas, resident badgers were already there, thus the territorial fighting associated with Bourne's now infamous 'edge effect' in the RBCT took place here as well.

Any increase in Tb in badgers after FMD was nothing whatsoever to do with cattle, and everything to do with badger behaviour, which seems to have escaped everyone's notice especially the Badger Trust spokesman. And coming just hours after the ASA supported a claim by the FUW against its sister charity, the RSPCA, for 'unsubstantiated and untruthful' advertising campaigns, (see our post below) using the same information from the same clique of 'scientists', the timing of this 'paper' originally published in July, is slick unadulterated spin.


Anonymous said...

Matthew - if you have such confidence in your explanations that you have written here, why don't you get them published somewhere recognisable (such as a peer-reviewed journal) so that they can be used in conjunction with other evidence? I doubt the people who are actually tasked with deciding what to do about badger culling are going to read this blog and even if they did, wouldn't take it as seriously as they would if it were peer-reviewed and published.

Matthew said...

I presume you are talking of the ecological disturbance which we saw following FMD, and which seems to have passed by the great and the good, completely?
'Anonymous' - we are the grass roots, bog standard carrot crunchers, not an 'ology between us - well only Richard. But we have been in touch with VLA and senior veterinary scientists about this. If they are able to take it up, it would carry more weight.
For sure, the complete abandonment of thousands of acres for a year or more, caused an ecological upheaval, the like of which I have never experienced in nearly 50 years of farming. But we take your point and will try and get it hoisted up the ladder a bit. Thanks.