Proposals for a widespread cull of badgers to limit the spread of bovine tuberculosis have been ruled out by the government's Independent Scientific Group, which argues that culling cannot make any meaningful contribution.
Environment Secretary David Miliband is expected to accept the recommendations, and make it clear that culling will not be reintroduced into Britain. Culling was banned in 1998 after doubts about its effectiveness. Animal protection groups which have campaigned against the measure say that it is cruel and unnecessary. The National Farmers' Union, however, is expected to challenge the decision.
The ISG's findings, based on trials over a 10-year period, show that when badgers are disturbed by a cull the survivors move farther afield, spreading the disease to cattle and to other badgers. Bovine TB costs around £80million a year, in compensation paid to farmers whose herds have to be put under movement restrictions. It says farmers can do more to detect the disease early in cattle, by using a new blood test.
and an identical 'leak' can be found in the Telegraph
The £80 million by the way, is not pocketed by 'farmers' at all. Compulsory purchase payments make up but one third of the bTb budget - but it sounds good, and usually goes unchallenged. The Telegraph article also refers to Prof. Bourne as 'Sir John'.
A bit premature, we would say, but nevertheless a possibilty.
We had doubts - big ones - as the wisdom of hanging on to anything at all that came out the RBCT after its chaotic progress and in particular, the damning critique by one of its own managers. Nevertheless, the main farming unions grabbed John Bourne's assertion that a "300 sq.km block" offered the best hope of dealing with the disease in wldlife. It wasn't, as we have said before this so called 'edge effect' of the RBCT efforts which so devastated and disappointed us, it what what they failed to achieve in the middle of their playgrounds. And to extend the area, using the same tools, in our opinion, merely amplifies the chaos.
We will not pre judge this weeks' press releases. But to sum up:
Since 1997, when all badger culling in response to outbreaks of wildlife driven bTb was halted for the duration of this 'trial', at the direction not of parliament but the chairman of the group leading the RBCT, the number of herds under bTb restriction now approaches 7 per cent.
That total includes, as it always has, herds which had bought in no cattle and whose owners are feeling pretty sore at being accused of 'sins and ommissions' which they have not committed.
In response, the EU has a veterinary certificate already drafted for use to ban UK products across the community.
The Badger Trust has seen a parallel growth to bTb, in its full time employees.
The use of PCR is still barely scratching the surface of a disparate, demoralised and now re-branded State Veterinary Service,
and members of the badger groups still think that all farmers want to exterimnate all badgers.
No group has 'won' here. Tuberculosis has.
On-site rapid diagnosis, such as that given proper trials by Warwick , allowing any necessary euthanasia to be both humane and targeted, could defuse the whole, horrible, polarised "debate" between those who want to save their cattle and those who want to protect badgers. Both sides speak from the best of motives. But we have the technology to deal with bovine TB without a mass cull.
And with that conclusion we agree, absolutely.