Thursday, April 10, 2008

Devil in the detail?

We mentioned that phrase in relation to our posting below, on the Welsh Assembly's announcement this week of a pilot cull of badgers in an as yet undefined ' hotspot', and a more thorough examination of the full announcement has churned out a couple of 'devils'.
We believe that the most effective measure to address both sources of infection and cross-infection, subject to strict regulation and meeting a number of requirements, would be a targeted cull of badgers in TB high incidence areas. To take this forward we will prioritise the establishment of an intensive action pilot in an area which has been identified as a TB hotspot. No final decision has yet been made about a location capable of satisfying these criteria but I anticipate it would be in a defined high incidence area for the disease and subject to strict conditions. Additional areas will not be considered until the implementation and robust review and a proper evaluation of the cull and the other measures in the intensive action pilot area has been undertaken.

'Strict regulation and meeting of requirements' sounds suspiciously like a number of bureaucratic boxes must be ticked conditions must be met prior to any action on a wildlife reservoir on tuberculosis. And if, after the pilot cull takes place, these conditions cannot be met in other areas? What then?
The paper continues:
Action by government alone will not eradicate bovine TB. I want to reform the compensation regime to encourage herd owners to follow best practice. By the end of 2008 plans will be published to amend the current system to ensure compensation arrangements encourage herd owners to comply with legal and best practice requirements. I will also take action to further address the concerns about the abuse to the TB compensation system as highlighted by the report of the National Audit Office in 2003.

That sounds like tabular valuations are on the way, and any compulsory purchase monies will be dependent upon an assessor's opinion of a farm's biosecurity. But the really big 'devil' is in the final sentence of this next paragraph.
We will also be taking forward other measures such as the development and promotion of improved husbandry and biosecurity practices to make sure that cattle owners know what to do to reduce the risk of the introduction of the disease onto their farms, or to manage existing disease. This will include from 2009 the publication of infected farms and the compensation paid.

So, publication of the farms under Tb restriction. A death knell to a pedigree breeder selling bulls or top notch breeding females? So, it looks to us like the Welsh Assembly have used a very big stick of possibly reduced compulsory purchase monies which will be totally dependent upon increased biosecurity and the threat of the publicity of both, should infected stripeys break through the cordon.

Like our own beloved Defra, the Welsh Assembly speak of 'partnership' but are more than willing to use any means possible to beat the industry into submission, in this instance over a situation not of their making, nor under their control. Defra used the tabular valuation paperwork in England to obtain a farmer's signature prior to slaughter of a reactor and knowledge of amount of compulsory purchase monies paid, and it looks very much as if the Assembly will follow suit. Even to the extent of 'no signature means no payment at all, and if you sign it will be published'. A very unequal partnership we think, and at a time when many farmers are pushed to the brink of emotional overload by the restrictions imposed by a Tb breakdown.

It would seem to us that the various sides (and there should be only one) in this debate are posturing through the motions. The Badger Trust rocking their pram and throwing out unsubstantiated, emotional rubbish at a gullible public, and the farming unions playing along with what may turn out to be an unworkable political mishmash in the hope of implanting a backbone into the wavering frame of our own Hilary Benn.

A link to the Welsh Assembly full statement (pdf) is here.

25 comments:

Isabel Davies said...

You aren't the only ones with these kind of concerns. Farmers Weekly's livestock editor Jonathan Long is expressing similar sentiments on the FW forums

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Community/forums/wales-leading-the-way-on-tb-front-14404.aspx

Anonymous said...

Please can someone explain a couple of things for me.

1. Why is publishing the herd status such a bad thing? Doesn't the buyer have a right to know the status of the herd? Also, I find it strange that at the moment farmers have no way of finding out if their neighbour's farm is under restriction for an infectious disease.

2. If the compensation system in Wales is being abused, why shouldn't it be reformed? If the problem was identified in 2003, why has nothing been done to sort it?

3. What is the problem with meeting criteria before culling? Do you seriously think farmers should be able to deal with badgers in any way that they see fit, regardless of whether they have TB or not, using which ever method they choose.

Thank you

Matthew said...

Isabel. Thanks. Saw the comments earlier today. Our concerns are that as VAWM pointed out, the hoops may be too cumbersome for the Welsh to roll.

Anon. 11.09
We will do our best with your points. Can't answer for other farmers, but from the editors of this site:
1. If a farm is under Tb restriction, then it will not be selling anything other than for direct slaughter, or under strictly regulated Defra licenses, so flagging up such holdings serves no useful purpose. We take your point re. neighbouring breakdowns, but such is the situation now that whereas a few years ago farmers would not talk to each other about their Tb restrictions, now they do.

Defra were / are(?) prevented from divulging such information by the Data Protection Act - a point which may have to be explored within the context of the Welsh announcement. But our biggest concern, to put it politely, is criminal damage to stock and property. This has been routine in the past, where badger removal operations and the RBCT have been stymied, and farm fences and machinery subject to damage. Farmers themselves on the receiving end of vitriolic abuse the associated stress of which, is not something to be flagged up lightly.

2. The compensation system in Wales is still under individual valuation. In 2006, the English compulsory purchase system was 'reformed' by Ben Bradshaw to accomodate set table values for stock slaughtered. This left many farmers out of pocket and whereas in the past, they could (and did) obtain insurance cover for a top up, that option is no longer available. After a prolonged breakdown, despite having Tb insurance for several years, we are now uninsurable.

A paper done by Exeter university and published in 2005, indicated that 85% of England's valuations were 'in line', and that was 'as good as it gets'. Of the remaining 15%, as many were grossly undervalued (some subject to appeal) as were over valued. Nevertheless, table values came in for England. As compulsory purchase only makes up one third of the total government spend on its bTb annual cull of sentinels, it has not taken long to regain the status quo. Testing, slaughter, haulage, postmortems, samples and paperwork including tracing all contribute to the two thirds of the budget unaffected by table values, and increasing at 18 - 20% annually. The Welsh Assembly voted to keep individual valuations some time ago. It would appear they have now changed their mind - or the cost of increasing bTb outbreaks has changed it for them.

3. The criteria as described for culling we feel may be too tight to be of any use whatsoever. Particularly if it draws down on the RBCT methods or recommendations. And indeed we do have many problems with a farmer free-for-all, not least that bTb is a government responsibility and any cull should be overseen and carried out by them. Previous criteria was a confirmed bTb breakdown, not attributed to a bought in cow, and usually reflecting problems over several farms in the area. This case information and the request made for badger culling was presented to a panel consisting of badger experts, vets etc.

The Welsh statement would appear to draw bits from the RBCT, geographic boundaries and biosecurity all of which is subjective and cumbersome. Too much so, if the farm is being visited on a daily basis by infectious wildlife and 60 day tests are not clearing the problem.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my three questions.

On 1, I take your point about farmers under restriction only selling direct to slaughter. However, anything that can be done to increase buyer awareness of the TB status of the exporting farm has to be a good thing? I don't buy your "criminal damage" agrument. If the Welsh were proposing to publish the names and addresses of those farms where culling was taking place, then I might agree with you. But that is not the proposal.

On 2, from memory the 2003 NAO report claimed compensation abuse was taking place on a large scale. Are you saying the Exeter study rejects the claims made by the NAO? Perhaps it would be helpful if you posted links to both the NAO report and the Exeter study so we can see for ourselves? An additional point, if an animal is infected why should the taxpayer compensate the farmer the full market value? If the animal is diseased then it must have less value than an healthy animal? Or am I missing something?

On 3, I fear the disease is so widespread that it would not be possible for government operatives to organise and carry out a cull on the scale and timescale needed to eradicate the disease. It may not be acceptable to some, but culling badgers can only be cost effective if the costs are covered by the industry, not the taxpayer.

Keep up the good work with the blog.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.33.

The Welsh statement (as opposed to the press release) said that from 2009, they proposed "publication of infected farms and compensation paid". From Staffs. to Cornwall three contributers to the site have witnessed the damage I described.

For slaughter stock, the Tb status of the exporting farm is of little value and for breeding stock going to an extended testing regime, we favour a post movement test at 60 -120 days.

2. The Exeter paper was offered personally to a contributer, as were the author's comments. The ministerial reaction to it, as with many things was a different matter. No links. We understand that Tb outbreaks in camelids are causing financial pain in AHO circles at present. As one such affected herd is in Wales, the Assembly's proposal to draw that class of farmed mammal under the tb surveillance umbrella should be welcomed.

You'll note the use of the word 'affected' as opposed to 'infected'. The skin test in cattle shows exposure to m.bovis, not a 'diseased animal'. About half of cattle slaughtered show no visible lesions and are culture negative. (Using gammaIFN that figure drops to 82 per cent of cattle slaughtered.)
Table valuations cover a variety of notifiable and statutorily slaughter-related cattle conditions. It was always the case that as control over the spread of these were outside farmer control, and slaughter a pre requisiste then government paid. Farmers are able (and should) obtain appropriate insurance to cover any gap between values offered in the event of an outbreak in their herd, and their own stock. That option, as I said, is not open to farmers in areas of endemic Tb for that particular zoonosis.

Insurers tell us claims are 'haemorraging' their total farm insurance budget. And there is a vast difference between a risk to cattle which farmers can control with appropriate bio security, and an endemically infected wildlife reservoir which by statute, they are forbidden to touch.

3.You're right in that the spread of bTb has blossomed from the 7/8 hotspots described and shown on Defra's maps in 1996/97 - to where we are today. Like Topsy they have grown. If the RBCT showed us anything, it was how not to cull badgers. And that is by mathematical modelling on a hit-and-run eight night cage trap jolly.

As has been said, a smaller scale cull carefully targetted around a group of affected farms can be just as effective provided that the whole badger group is dispatched, and any particularly dispersers from that group, accounted for. Trapping the strongest scent markers and stirring up an endemically infected population was not the brightest idea.

I personally feel that wipe out over larger areas, suggested to minimise the so-called edge effect of the RBCT is unachievable. It is also unecessary. And as we have said, John Bourne's 'edges' are purely of his own making. His methodology - if one can describe the mess of the RBCT as such - fractured badger social groups and encouraged territorial fighting.

A more pragmatic solution is needed to manage what is now a hugely infected wildlife reservoir.
We discussed this in our posting 'Peturbation - Update' in July 2007.

I think farmers are more than willing to offer assistance to Defra in this. Our objections are to headlines such as 'Farmers call for Mass Slaughter of Badgers', and centre around Defra utterly vacuous abandonment of it's statutory responsibilities.

The excuses for doing nothing, or progressive sanitisation of permitted badger clearances over the last twenty years have been nothing if not imaginative. Only now that food shortages are looming, imports inflating the budget deficit and the Treasury blowing smoke up the Chancellor's backside, are the consequences of past prevarication being felt.

Matt 3 (Blogger being silly and logged me out)

Anonymous said...

glad to see farmerblogger back in action dishing out plenty of what his male cattle excrete

Matthew said...

Anon 5.36.
Yup after shovelling the S H one T all winter, and testing cattle of course - mustn't forget that, we just love adding to the wealth of info on this site. So, we're at your service - if you'll pardon the pun.

Re a 'farmer-free-for-all' on badger culling, we should have added that the poppets rarely comply with farm boundaries. In fact two of our contributers are in the position of having herd restrictions, with problems incoming from land over which they have no control at all.

This reinforces our point (we think) that Defra need to enforce their 'right of entry' which they have for other diseases, animal or vegetable, and provide an overview of the disease situation in an area, not just on one single farm.

That is something individual farmers, or even a group cannot do.

Bluedog said...

So what is your problem with headlines such as 'Farmers call for Mass Slaughter of Badgers'.

That's true isn't it!

Please don't bother to repeat the 'selective cull of diseased badgers' claptrap.

Farmers are calling for and attempting to get support for large areas of badger removal

Matthew said...

Bluedog said:
"Farmers are calling for and attempting to get support for large areas of badger removal"

Not this one.

As we have said, and will continue to say, a 'management strategy' of an endemically infected badger population is what is needed. Wipe out is neither achievable on that scale, nor acceptible.

As far as we are aware, farmers in several areas have indicated their willingness to join their land into larger areas, over which Defra will have the final say as what sort of cull takes place and more importantly, where.

Totally unecessary, as Defra have power of entry anyway. They just choose not to use it.

Under the Bern Convention protocol, any cull of badgers has to 'targeted' - their words, not ours.

Anonymous said...

When we had our TB outbreak (closed herd, no TB in 40 years)I tried to persuade Defra to test the badgers on our farm - they refused. Ben Bradshaw wrote that there was no reliable live test - not strictly true - just an unwillingness on his part to accept that the first rule of disease control is to find the source of the disease and eradicate it. We have now lost 70 cows but after more than three years we are still failing our tests and under movement restrictions. Clearly our cattle are being exposed to the disease from another source.

I would much prefer a targeted approach and doubt whether a large area could be cleared and, more importantly, kept clear long enough to achieve a result. How would Defra or the Welsh equivalent prevent possibly well meaning but totally misguided people re-introducing badgers (illegally) some of which may be carrying TB? When the disease re-infects clean herds the anti-culling faction would claim that culling had failed to stop the spread of bovine TB.The Welsh initiative seems too much like Krebs Mark 2 for my liking.

I also believe that Defra should shoulder its responsibilities and oversee disease eradication. Sites of culls should also be kept secret at least until completion to prevent any interference and intimidation from over-zealous animal rights activists.

We made a point of publicising the fact that we had TB with letters to papers, TV interviews etc. and we are pleased that farmers are now more ready to speak about the subject.But getting the politicians to take action is another matter as the organisers of this blog well know. I wonder how long before the rapidly rising world food prices will have an effect on our politicians attitude to farming in this country?

Matthew said...

Anon. 1.00

So sorry that you're still under restriction, and losing cattle.
If we may, We'd like to elevate your comment to a posting later. It covers the one sided approach to bTb very well.

On food shortages, the media is now catching up with riots and deaths as basic food shortages bite in countries where more of disposable income is spent on food.
Mexico, Haiti, Philipines and Egypt have all had social unrest as a direct result.

This country cannot afford to consign 28,000 cattle prematurely to the scrap heap, losing their unborn calves, milk output, excellent beef and superior genetics on the altar of political expediency much longer. Imports to replace will not be there 'at a price'; they will not be there.

Anonymous said...

"Under the Bern Convention protocol, any cull of badgers has to 'targeted' - their words, not ours."

They're certainly 'targeting' badgers with snares in southern Ireland.


"As far as we are aware, farmers in several areas have indicated their willingness to join their land into larger areas, over which Defra will have the final say as what sort of cull takes place and more importantly, where."

We know you're not NFU fans, and obviously have no idea of what they want to do - bring on the gas.

Anonymous said...

yup, Anon, agree, bring on the gas, as fed up reading such a load of garbage from so called badger lovers.
Years ago the likes of real badger lovers took care to eliminate bad sets, to keep all wildlife healthy.
When I was 11years old I frequently went to a set on my fathers farm to watch the badgers.
One day I went there as usual,only to see our local Gypsy friend stopping up the holes to the set, I asked him why was he doing this? he said 'them sick girl, them be sick, got to make sure them dont spread to others'. You see, this was over 50 years ago and that wise man of the romanys, who lived by us knew best even back then.
So please dont think farmers and country people want to kill healthy badgers, its just not in our nature, we want to preserve wildlife for the future, which can be done with a little help and thoughtfulness. Its a shame we do not have the likes of my wise old friend to help take care of the badgers, he knew, he sorted, when it was needed.
That set was distroyed then, but a huge healthy one still exists not so far away, and, long may that be.

Matthew said...

Anon. 8.45.

We notice no there are replies to the comment above, where a herd on back to back 60 day testing is still in trouble. A closed herd too, I believe. No bought in cattle.

'Targeted' as in the Bern Convention vernacular, has meant the Irish limiting their cull area to farms with confirmed and persistant Tb breakdowns, and using a method which (they feel) identifies badgers entering the curtilage of such farms. Whether you agree with the method, or not, that is using the message the cattle are giving. The Irish are not shooting this messanger and ignoring its information.

Anon. 3.29

Thanks for that. Yup, had the same experiences ourselves - many years ago of course. Badgers are not stupid. When a sett member gets heavily infectious, as opposed to infected but not shedding Tb, then the group will kick it out.
These 'dispersers' are lethal, as we (or rather our cattle) have found to our and their cost. If the badgers themselves don't want them around, why should we?

An eradication policy centred around 'management' of what is now an endemically infected population, would be better for badgers, cattle and taxpayers. And as we have said, and will continue to say, 'wipe out' is not in our tool box.

Leaving a healthy main sett is ideal, mopping up its chuckouts sensible, but ignoring the situation is absolutely mindblowingly, crazy.

Two similar scenarios we will describe; both farms been under almost continuous Tb restriction for several years.

The first, no bought in cattle at all. Problem identified recently as badgers entering farm building area from another 'farm' owned by ??? and therefore inaccesible to the farmers. But not to Defra. A huge historic sett within their farm boundaries, vibrant and healthy. But the scent marks from this do not extend to the dairy / feed set up. Cattle lost? About 50 over 6 years. So, what do they do? They're sitting ducks to the chuck outs from their own healthy setts, who have holed up half a mile away in scrubland.

Matt 3 has a similar tale. Three farms - including our contributer -have had a long history of Tb restriction made worse by the dispersal efforts of the RBCT. Two are / were closed herds, one not. All are under restriction at present. The last lorries left with 16 pregnant dairy heifers and a couple of beef yearlings. Matt has an IR. Problem is the same as the farm above. Two historic setts within the boundaries walked, are heaving. Absolutely fine. But - their 'dispersers' have snuck off to the edge of these setts' marked area - in one case if they went any further they'd need water wings - but are braving the scent markers of the main group to enter the edges of the area farmed (about 1500 acres) and in one case, (not Matt's ) the farm buildings and feed stores.

These 'bolt holes' will be used by other badgers excluded from the main groups over time. And time. And time. While a pedantic slanging match employs many, and the badgers so excluded die a disgusting death, having spread their lethal package both to their own kind, and - anything else that falls over the bacteria.
Very sensible. The noble cause has blanked out all sense and most reason.

Anonymous said...

From anon 3.25, how come these so called badger lovers never seem to reply to posts that slightly show them up for what they really are!!
And that is, well fed, pompous, lets upset the farmers brigade who we just love to try and upset. Most of these so called badger lovers have very little knowledge about any thing!
Having read Trevor Lawsons writings in the papers and listening to his reasoning beggars belief! His followers are like belonging to some sect!
Get onto the real planet earth and start to help, and not hinder,you so called badger lovers, but then again, I suppose thats to much to ask.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the purpose of this blog was to spread information on the problems caused by bovine TB and to discuss solutions.

I wonder if it is serving that purpose?

Seems that there are various factions including some who can do nothing better than 'slag off' those that do not support their point of view.

Personally, I am very confused as to what the blog owners are advocating.

You clearly feel that some form of wildlife 'control' is needed, but do not support the NFU/NBA proposals for wide spread culling along the lines that some scientists think might be effective (if costly/difficult to implement)

A suggestion:

Start a new topic: 'Bovine TB the bloggers solution' or somesuch. Then give a clear breakdown of what you propose as a solution preferably giving references to back up your suggestions.

It would seem that you may need to convince not only those 'badger huggers' but also many farmers (including the NFU)of your proposals.

Rather than just telling us everyone else is wrong (The Welsh being the latest in a long line), why no take a positive line by presenting your proposals. You could refer to these in future arguments to illustrate why you feel alternative proposals would not work, but yours would.

Matthew said...

Anon 5.10
We have presented a breakdown of why we disagreed with a 'cherry picked' RBCT final report, and explored what we had learned about the way in which some even small scale clearances of badgers in response to Tb had been successful, and some not so.

http://bovinetb.blogspot.com/2007/07/peturbation-update.html

(If that doesn't scan, scroll to July 2007 on the side bar list of postings)

That posting drew no comments at all.

We are mindful of John Bourne's aside to EFRAcom, when he described his 'Trojan horse' of cattle measures for which he would offer a few dead badgers.

http://bovinetb.blogspot.com/2007/08/trojan-horse.html

... which is why we are concerned about taking note of just one part of this report. (Or, having been on the receiving end, any of it)

Anonymous said...

Matthew said...

Anon 5.10
We have presented a breakdown of why we disagreed



Exactly my point!

What do you propose as the solution?

Matthew said...

Anon. 2.04

We also said: " ... and explored what we had learned about the way in which some even small scale clearances of badgers in response to Tb had been successful, and some not so." ... and gave links.

You ask 'what would we do'?

1. Annual testing for all cattle until tb in the cattle herds is identified.
2. Cull reactors - as now. And re test at 60 days until clear - as now.
3. If the epidemiological source of outbreak, completed by the AHO at the time of the breakdown indicates that bought in cattle were not the cause of the breakdown, and it does not resolve by removing reactors on the first and second test, then we would support the most successful strategy of past years which was the 'Clean Ring'.

This involved drawing a circle around the outbreak farm or farms, and culling badgers within that area. The circle was extended to 7km. or until such time as the badgers tested clear at pm. and the cattle in the area tested clear.

This wasn't a strategy that shattered the social group, taking the strong scent markers and leaving weak and dispersed members behind. Neither did it continue very long. From a contributer's personal experience - including interference with traps - 6-8 weeks at most.

Any highly infective dispersers entering the area after an initial clearance, were picked up on the second round, leaving the most adjacent social group intact to gradually recolonise with no territorial scrapping and stress.

It was with this strategy that GB achieved less than 100 herds under restriction, and less than 700 cattle slaughtered in the mid 1980's. After that, cage trapping replaced gassing, and the area available to SVS was reduced from 7km, down to just 1km. And then only on land cattle had grazed. So setts on land in arable farms, or orchards and woodland but with territory extending over cattle farms were off the radar, to continue reinfecting.

In our personal situation (Matt 3), the setts we did have (not active now) were in woodland, some of which we do not have access to. So if a breakdown had occurred during 1985 - 1997 Interim (and much sanitised) Strategy, then no action could have been taken by SVS.

As to what method of culling we would support, then all should be available as options, but our first choice would be daytime gassing with CO2 if setts are accessible. If not, then as the RBCT eventually found, when they listened to their WLU operatives, trapping runs into affected farms proved successful as well. The main thing is not to break up a diseased colony - something the RBCT did with predictible consequences, in their 8 night, very occasional hit-and-run visits.

4. When areas of the country returned to 4 year testing, we would also support post movement testing of breeding cattle from tighter testing regimes, within 120 - 180 days of the move. This need not affect fattening cattle for slaughter and would be self limiting as more areas became disease free.

5. We would also push for more use of PCR technology, moving on apace in Eastern Europe we hear from Dr. Roger Breeze. This would take much guesswork out of which sett had infected individuals and which did not. Having explored in PQ's the transmission opportunities from mother to cubs in the confines of a sett, the length of time m.bovis survives in warm damp conditions, and confirmation of its spread through mutual grooming, we do not support going any further down that route of identifying which individual badger out of the sett is infected but not shedding at the moment, and which is infectious.

Past regimes which have put in place stringent and fierce cattle measures, as we have explained and linked to, have proved totally futile.

We are testing the cattle with a universally recognised primary diagnostic test, and ignoring the message they are giving. Particularly in herds like those of some of our contributers who have made a conscious biosecurity decision not to buy in cattle from other herds and have still suffered years of Tb restriction.

As another comment on this thread pointed out, Defra were invited to test the badgers on the farm, but declined the invitation. This was due to a moratorium introduced in 1997 on all badger culling in response to Tb outbreaks, and limiting any culling action to the dispersals of the RBCT.

Anonymous said...

Well summed up! We have no connection with the various Matthews who organise this blog but after three years under restrictions and having spent long hours investigating and studying the problem we have reached exactly the same conclusion as to further action on bovine TB. This is the common sense approach and it beggars belief that this government has yet to resume the issue of licences for the purpose of disease control - something already allowed under present legislation.
In passing - The Daily Telegraph reported a few days ago that Gordon Brown might resort to a re-shuffle to arrest the decline in his popularity and that 'Veggie' Benn might be moved.He(Benn)will have to act quickly if he is to make those difficult decisions on TB on his watch as he promised.Defra is becoming little more than a revolving door.

Anonymous said...

Been following this blog for some time & thought you guys had it sussed- oh dear.

Sounds to me like your idea is a non starter

Without even getting into whether the old 'clean ring' worked, isn't it a non-starter?

With gassing off the agenda, and RBCT reactive culling seeming so like clean ring without the gas - we all know the results of that.

disapointed anon

Matthew said...

Dispointed Anon;

The RBCT culls didn't work because they broke up the groups targetted by lines on a map, in an 8 night sortie - and then vanished for months (in the Reactive areas - years)
They were neither fast, accurate nor particularly effective.

The only method of targetting which setts are a problem should be by using the cattle tests as directive. Presence of disease should be the only driver.

We did say, 'all the tools ' should be available. And under the Bern convention, those do not include snares. But R of I seems to have relabelled them and are using 'leg restraints'. For sure, hydrogen cyanide gassing is grim, but other more humane alternatives are available and in regular use for controlling other subterranean species.

What would you suggest? Asking the affected badgers (politely of course) to pack up and go elsewhere?

We were careful to say 'go back to a strategy that worked' and 'use all the tools in the box' then move forward from there, preferably using today's technology to refine. That refining should take account of more accurate targetting of infected setts and the speed of their complete clearance behind confirmed outbreaks NOT tied to cattle movements.

Rocket science, it is not.

Anonymous said...

We were careful to say 'go back to a strategy that worked'

What would that be?

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, I'm not convinced that your proposals will ever be accepted - how many 'followers' have you recruited?

have you presented your proposals (together with the sigantures of your supporters) to Government - through your MP perhaps?

What was the reaction?

Anonymous said...

"Rocket science, it is not."

Perhaps that's the problem - the real world has had 'rocket science' for years - some choose to ignore it.