Sunday, January 03, 2010

Wildlife Assessments

We have mentioned the veterinary / farmer wildlife assessment initiative several times but a comment which has come in today reminded us of another option.
"My friend in Cornwall, an Alpaca owner who has already lost many of her Alpacas to TB, has taken the bull by the horns and had a private company, owned and run by former Defra wildlife employees, to survey her farm and recommend what needs to be done to minimise the impact of TB and how to reduce badger access to her farm."
This visit was most successful and, says our commentator, possibly a service that others may wish to adopt.

The company was founded by ex WLU manager Paul Caruana and other colleagues, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge of wildlife, particularly badgers. It trades as Field Services South West. We have previously posted some of Paul's comments from when he was a field manager taking orders from the diminutive John Bourne, and trying to catch badgers (fairly unseccessfully, it would seem) - in the manner which ISG instructed demanded, during their RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial.

FSSW can contacted via their website: or mail them at

The comment continues:
Having had a relative employed in the Wildlife Unit, I know that many of them have the skills to be able to usefully & practically advise farmers & alpaca owners on the risks they face and the actions they can take to avoid getting this diseases into their herds.
And concludes that the excercise "sounded most useful" and asked if we could put a name to this service, which we are happy to do.


Anonymous said...

As usual, you have provided an excellent summary, but in this particular case, the link to the WLU's comments in 2006 is mind blowing (to me). I knew that the trapping and coverage were patchy during the trial, but did not realise just how desperately bad it all was. It sounds almost as if there was a deliberate attempt to interfere with the data gathering. The first rule of any Randomised Controlled Trial is that your data gathering has to be adequate. The published results of this trial have been compromised as a consequence, right from the start. Somebody did a really, really good job of spiking the outcome before it even started.

Keep up the good work. In the end, someone needs to write a book about all this.

David Eyles

Matthew said...

David : 13.11

Thankyou for the support.

There was another posting which came in from a WLU operative which you will find on this link which we posted in February 2006;

where the ex WLU operative said :

"All of the fieldstaff working on Krebs have felt the frustrations of having to carry out their operations to a very prescriptive method. It does not allow for any common sense approach to what is often a practical problem that could be easily solved if only.......common sense could be used !!"
So yes, you could describe it as 'spiked'. And in evidence to various committees, John Bourne was quite open that he started his 'trial' knowing that there was one outcome he could not reach.

We described some of these the proceedings in September 2007:

The 'trial' achieved exactly what Defra wanted. Time.