Quotes from the farming press ask expensive for whom? But we will take our own line and examine answers to Parliamentary Questions on the trial protocol and its efficacy, communications from WLU staff working on the
From a submission to EFRAcom in 2006, a culling trial manager stated:
" The whole basis of Krebs was to remove badgers off the ground. For the first four years, that effort was farcical, due to restrictions placed upon us. The trial had too many flaws in it to be trusted to produce meaningful evidence. How much weight do we give the latest ISG report, detailing their ‘robust’ findings to the minister? If it were down to me and my staff, very little".And on the subject of using anything to do with trial costings, the submission was emphatic...
The costs for a future culling policy must NOT be based on Krebs costings. The Wildlife Unit have many great ideas on how to reduce costs vastly should the State remain involved in it. Give the Unit a chance to see how innovative it can be when it comes to reducing operating costs. Krebs was ridiculously expensive for what it delivered.However, this latest paper appears to rely on 2005 costings of badger culling as carried out during the Krebs trial referred to in such scathing terms above. As usual the figures in this mathematical modelling exercise are subject to 'assumption' but what isn't, is the raw, unadulterated information from the trial, gleaned by answers to our PQs over a similar time scale to Donnelly's 'assumed' costs.
The RBCT relied on cage trapping over a very short period of 8 nights annually, with locations widely advertised. Operations were co-ordinated from two VI centres: Polwhele near Truro in Cornwall and Aston Down near Stroud in Glos. Approximately 133personnel from these sites covered all ten trial areas. Thus WLU operatives from Truro, after visiting farms on their home turf could head north on the M5 / M6 for Staffordshire via Hereford, while Aston Down's staff were also covering many miles at exorbitant and unnecessary cost.
 The number of WLU staff employed on the RBCT was 133 in 2003/04, at a cost £6.8 million.So what were they doing? Catching badgers? Nope. Not all the time. In fact not much of the time.
 In 2003, 1,130,000 miles were driven in WLU official vehicles, which equates to 2 - 3 hours travelling per person, per day.How many times to the moon and back is that mileage? And as local expertise was not used, overnights, B&B and security allowances were also stacking up to the tune of around £130/day per operative, over and above their usual salary. That's £500 a week for each operative + salary. All presumably included within the ISG costs of their very own unique method of trying to trap badgers. We are unaware if Prof. Donelly's or the rest of the ISG team's own remunerations were included in the total.
So what of the efficacy of their attempts?
 Of 15,666 traps sited in the RBCT to October 2003, 8,981 were 'interfered with' and 1,827 disappeared.A pretty poor success rate then, if almost 70 percent of the traps set at dusk were empty in the morning. And the cost to the trial of traps damaged was answered thus:
 (Over a similar time scale to the PQ above), 6,239traps suffered damage and 1,926 were stolen or lost at a cost of £50 each.So, £408,250 to be added to 'costs' of not catching badgers in cage traps. But how did all this affect how efficiently the RBCT was able to do what it allegedly intended? i.e to catch and cull badgers?
 There has been a level of illegal activity and interference with the operation of the RBCT which is certainly undesirable and could be considered significant. Culling stopped for a variety of reasons, including interference from activists and weather. Some activities led to trapping being extended or prematurely suspended.But presumably the costs which now form the basis of Donnelly's paper were not suspended? WLU personnel were paid to set traps; whether or not they succeeded in catching badgers in them, we are unable to extrapolate from the ISG data.
Given such skewed protocol, operated under bureaucratic straitjackets and unbridled costs the average cost per badger caught and dispatched would be £thousands. And yet in spite of all the aforementioned and acknowledged problems, Donnelly confirms a drop of an average of 30% in new herd breakdowns of TB. (a figure which in itself is misleading, as herds under restriction at the beginning of the 'trial' did not qualify for badger removals, and although forming mini-hotspots within the ten triplets, are not included in RBCT data.) And 30 per cent is very meaningful if you happen to one of that number.
Dividing these extraordinary WLU 'costs' during the
But commenting on the paper, Professor Bill Reilly, President of the BVA, said:
“This paper clearly demonstrates that badger culling did have an impact on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle, which is a very positive outcome.Quite.
The Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) was undertaken in very specific circumstances and it could be misleading to extrapolate the findings to any future control programme".
The ISG final report and everything which has sprung from it, confirmed (again) that badgers do transmit TB to cattle, but it showed us quite clearly how NOT to deal with that situation.