Mr. Hill is wrong, said Trevor and his claim is "utter nonsense". But worse than that, those who give him credibility, are "willfully ignorant".
So what exactly did Trevor ask? Because to get the correct answer, it is always wise to understand the situation on the ground. Remember those 14 million animal movements, which were actually postcards? Data x four in some cases. We do.
As Mr. Hill points out in his Right to Reply published today, he is a 'countryman' not 'superman'. and the Beaworthy area of mid Devon, we are told, is huge. The thirty farms on which Mr. Hill's policy has worked so spectacularly form a small part of that very large whole. And of those 31 farms, 30 are clear. One on the edge has a single reactor. So, 99.9 percent of the cattle in Bryan's patch are clear of TB in area which Trevor has found, has 24 per cent farms under Tb restriction. Almost a quarter. Healthy badgers and healthy cattle. We would call that a success - but hey, what do we know?
And more importantly for the health and welfare of the badgers, they are a valued part of the ecology in this area. They are not 'eliminated', 'eradicated' or any other words of high profile emotive spin, which add little to the debate but keep the Badger Trust's collection boxes rattling. We had a paper delivered asking for £50,000 to 'help the cause'. Would that be to save badgers or jobs?
For the record Central Science Laboratory has identified behavioural differences between badgers excreting m. bovis and those uninfected. A parliamentary question regarding this 'atypical' behaviour of badgers in the 'super excreter category was asked in March 2004. The badgers which Mr. Hill describes so graphically as 'excluded, wandering over longer ranges and into farm buildings ', and is roundly castigated by Trevor Lawson for speaking 'more farmer nonsense'. That'd be about right, however, Mr. Bradshaw's answer - for which, as ever, we are most grateful, confirmed that:
"badgers excreting M. bovis are potential sources of infection for other badgers and cattle.The term 'super excreter' is used for research purposes to identify a sub-group of infected badgers from which M.Bovis has been isolated from several different clinical samples. These animals are thought to be in an advanced stage of disease progression and survival analyses have shown that they exhibit a higher rate of mortality than uninfected animals. (That means they die)
Research conducted by the Central Science Laboratory has identified behavioural differences between badgers excreting M bovis, and uninfected ones. Badgers excreting M.bovis had larger home ranges and were more likely to visit farm buildings.
23rd March 2004: Col 684W [ 158375]
We had hoped that members of the Badger Trust might support this type of 'management' of an endemically diseased population until such time as the scientists get off their backsides and ratchet PCR up the political agenda. Instead we see the night of the long knives.