Sunday, April 11, 2010

More on how to make a horlicks ...

We have not been terribly enthusiastic about Defra's attempts to control badger-TB in the recent past. And to be fair, Defra have not given us any reason to be enthusiastic. After several years of local control, overseen by experienced Wildlife teams answerable to local AH veterinary staff, the whole thing went pear shaped during the RBCT Badger Dispersal Trial.

Political scientists organised - or not - 8 night-hit-and run visits in well advertised locations. FMD interrupted play for a year, and all in all, with trashed traps, spring lay offs and pregnant sows released, it could be considered a bonus to have caught anything at all, at least for the first four years.

Defra's Badger Vaccine Deployment Project appears to be heading in a similar, or even more hazy direction, as we pointed out in this post.
And this week, most of our points were confirmed in Farmers Guardian, with a piece headed 'ill thought out, and expensive'.

More snippets on this expensive charade arrived in a comment today. We cannot verify these, but from past (bitter) experience, they do sound just about right. The comment from the Glos. area points out that some of the badger setts to be targeted on his patch are enormous. And after talking with potential contractors, they confirm that they are instructed to limit the trapping to:

* 3 hours of daylight only.

* they must visit each sett twice, once to check traps and secondly to return with vaccine - however far away vehicular access and thus stored vaccine, may be.

* they may only trap a sett for two nights.

... and then the bit which came as a shock - even to us. Tender and payment, we understand is per sett - whether it has a single hole or happens to be one of these huge earthworks with 50. (And as 'someone else' is doing the survey, whether it is in fact occupied by a badger at all ?) It is certainly not 'per badger' vaccinated. Thus after the two nights (and six hours of daylight) and then the double hike to inspect and return with the 3 ft. hyperdermic laden with vaccine, even if there is only one badger caught out of a potential group of 10 or 20, they are 'timed out'. That's it. Job done and away they go. Leaving how many?

Our comment includes the phrase: "who on earth dreamt this up".

We would suggest, with the greatest respect as ever, 'someone' who doesn't have to account for another shed load of taxpayer's cash which may be spent 'to no good effect' - again.

'Someone' who is happy to blow smoke in the eyes of the gullible public that 'something' is being done by 'someone' who cares not one fig about the health and welfare of badgers.

A 'someone' who quite has happily overseen the slaughter of 255,963 cattle since the moratorium on infected badger control was purchased for £1m in 1997. (To put that in context, the previous 12 year block which had some semblance of well targeted infected badger control, saw 24,556 cattle slaughtered)

A 'someone' who is totally unconcerned about the overspill of badger-TB into numerous other species, to the extent that data is selectively sifted and support antemortem tests refused.

And 'someone' who is presently counting votes.

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