Friday, June 25, 2010

Badger vaccine project scrapped

News today that the badger vaccine project, of which we have been less than enthusiastic in the areas and with the operating procedure proposed, is to be scrapped. One pilot will go ahead near Cheltenham.

Details here.


Meconopsis said...

Hi folks.

I wonder what Mark Avery and the RSPB have got to do with BTB as he is banging on about it on the RSPB blog.


Anonymous said...

The vast increase in the badger population over the last 10-15 years has obviously impacted significantly on the survival rate of ground nesting birds.

The RSPB is reluctant to 'blame' another species - particularly the much loved (and much understood!) badger but the RSPB has acknowledged that TB in wildlife needs to be addressed.

Anonymous said...

oops! sorry!

that should read 'misunderstood'

Matthew said...

Anon 3.49.
After decades of work at Woodchester Park, (aka badger heaven) including their very useful epidemiological stuff, we think your first comment got it right.

And although the RSPB's primary concern is feathered, the effect of too many badgers on hedgehogs is particularly well documented. There is also a parallel effect on newts, toads slow worms, frogs and other small - and not so small - mammals and invertebrates.

Anonymous said...

I have just visited (again) the above link = it no longer works

I visited it successfully after a posting by a blogger - I think it was something like -'trimbush' - who was in favour of culling badgers and also in hunting the fox by 'professional huntsmen with hounds'

Coincidence - I don't think so!

The resource cannot be found.

Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /community/blogs/markavery/archive/2010/06/27/badgers.aspx

Anonymous said...

RSPB website extract:

We (RSPB) are currently opposed to badger culling and will not voluntarily grant access for badger control on our land.

As a significant landowner, using cattle as a valuable component of our land management, the RSPB is sympathetic to concern within the farming community over bovine TB. However, the RSPB has major concerns that badger culling would:
• actually increase the spread of TB if carried out on a small scale
• be impractical to carry out on a sufficiently large scale
• damage the conservation status of the badger, which is a protected species.
For these reasons the RSPB is currently opposed to badger culling and will not voluntarily grant access for badger control on our land. The Independent Scientific Group on Bovine TB submitted its final report to Ministers on 18 June 2007. They concluded that 'badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain' and that 'the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread constrained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone.'

'Nuff said !!!

Anonymous said...

The Woodland Trust view
The Woodland Trust is sympathetic to the impact that bTB has on farmers’ livelihoods.
We believe the ISG’s work, and ongoing monitoring of RBCT areas by Imperial College
(London), shows culling badgers is not the solution to bTB in the UK. Sustained and
widespread culling is uneconomic, impractical and publicly unacceptable. It could also cause
local extinction of badgers, contravening The Bern Convention on the Conservation of
European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, which requires any exploitation of certain animals,
including badgers, to be regulated to keep the population out of danger (Article 7). Actions
preventing damage to livestock are allowed (Article 9) but only when there is no other
satisfactory solution. Cattle-based measures should, therefore, be pursued in preference to
badger culling.

What the Woodland Trust will do:
The Woodland Trust will continue to:
• Refuse access to sites in our ownership for the purpose of culling badgers unless
required by law
• Work with partner organisations to oppose badger culling, in favour of cattle-based
solutions and increased biosecurity to keep badgers and cattle apart.

I hope the (new) government isn't giving cash to either RSPB or WT

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

Comments are interesting. More interesting than Mr. Avery's carefully crafted fence sitting.
Especially as it is our understanding that the RSPB encouraged arable farmers in Wilts(?) to leave tracts of land undrilled, to entice ground nesting birds.
This they were happy to do and the birds came and duly nested but failed to rear chicks. Night vision cameras, installed by the RSPB found the culprit. Badgers.

Mr. Avery obviously finds it difficult to share this experience.

Anonymous said...

Why can we accept having 40,000 cattle slaughtered and not even consider having the wildlife reservoir that is part of the problem sorted out at the same time ? Doing half a job, and that is what we are doing by slaughtering only cattle, is never going to solve the problem ! Even during the heyday of the 90s, when MAFF were supposedly making badgers extinct from our countryside, they were only culling 2,000 per year on avergae, whilst over 50,000 were being killed on our roads ! Let's please keep a sense of perspective on the whole issue and not just focus on one aspect of this disease. Badgers, especially infected badgers, need to be culled/controlled, call it what you will, but it has to be done. You "bunnie huggers" out there are so one eyed on this topic. It is time you opened both, swallowed a large dose of realism and let the farming community have the cull they so badly need.

Furthermmore, where are the hedgehog lovers in this arguement ? Are they not at all concerned that Mr Brock has decimated the population of hedgehogs so much, that a once common sight - squashed hedgehogs on our roads - have disappeared all together ?!

Fairness, reality, sense of perspective - us farmers need these to make sure we still have a cattle industry in the future. The sooner the Tories get a targeted cull underway, the better.

Matthew said...

Anon 2.33.

All the things which you've said, we agree with and have repeated in spades, on this site.
EU tuberculosis eradication guidelines have been aired, and they too point out that testing and culling cattle while leaving a wildlife reservoir to reinfect is as futile as it is expensive.

So why are g'ment so hell-bent on protecting infectious badgers?
The answer is simple. Money. Lobby cash - and votes. More votes in a dead badger than a dead cow ?
And as the Badger Trust so helpfully pointed out, 'cattle get killed anyway' ... and 'farmers do not get emotionally attached to their herds'.

Tell that to the owners of alpacas and cats. This is what will break the impasse. And this is why Defra's 'other species' stats are soooooo dumbed down (only counting VLA culture samples, not deaths) And it also explains why thus far, seven months into 2010, not one single 'other species' case of tuberculosis appears on the site.

From comments on this site, just three owners of alpacas have lost almost 80 between them. These have been airbrushed.
Not logged, so not happened.
And not good enough by a long way.

Meconopsis said...

Did you guys hear about the BTB outbreak in Scotland over last 4 months ?

Matthew said...

Heard nothing specific, Meconopsis.
Defra website still on go-slow, showing test results to February, when 32 herds were under restriction in Scotland. (In 2009, there were 76.)

Post movement testing (after 60 days) was introduced for all 'imported' cattle after February 2010, and exempt fattening units are to be phased out, so that may have churned up a few..

Scotland does have pockets of indigenous TB however, and if these are not tackled at source, they could (like ours in the SW of England) get bigger. And alpacas can move over the border with no controls whatsoever. We understand that Scotland's ministers do not perceive a problem here, as they are relying on Defras's published 'other species' stats , which as we have said, show a small proportion of the actual problem, and for 2010, nothing at all.

Feel free to share, if you have more on this.

Anonymous said...

I attended a very interesting presentation recently given by an ex-Defra management employee on badgers and the whole problem of bovine tubeculosis. It was the most interesting, informative, practical and common sense thing I have ever listened to and I have attended 100's in my time ! He seemed to have all of the answers on the way we need to tackle the problem with the main one being about winning over the public. If only infected cattle and infected badgers are targetted who could possibly argue with that ?! It seemed to me to be the common sense approach, something that we seem to lose entirely when this subject is braoched by other than cattle farmers. Let us have some common sense to fight this disease with and we can all be winners - badger luvvers n'all. Maybe it is time Defra took some notice of people like this and had them running the show - how things might change - or is that what they are afraid of ?

Matthew said...

Anon 5.05.

Couldn't agree more.
What the public do not realise, is that 'bovine' tb affects not just badgers (who die an awful death) and the sentinel, tested slaughtered cattle, but is a risk to them. Either directly from contaminated grass, stiles and badger crossing places or indirectly via the spill back infection of their pets and particularly alpacas. Which is why we are supporting the camelid owners in their efforts to ratchet up the problem on Defra's agenda.

The standstill on penside PCR is as regretable as it is negligent. As it would go a long way towards identifying which groups of badgers were capable of onwards tranmission of infection, and which were not.

That said, Defra have done a very good job of ignoring their own messengers. The slaughtered cattle, and the risk assessments as to the source of the problem carried out by their own AHOs.

Bait marking to ascertain the territory of an infected social group, and identification of their sett could still be done, given the will.

Anonymous said...


FAO – Mark Avery – Conservation Director – RSPB

Mark - you failed to publish and respond to my previous email regarding Badger TB asking:

“Why does the RSPB adopt a policy that ‘supports’ and perpetuates a disease (TB) in wild animals (badgers) - that spreads to other wildlife including deer and is capable of infecting domestic commercial animals - cattle and alpacas – as well as humans.”

I am not used to being patronised or ignored!

Mark - Your observations regarding government CUTS - “This clearly has implications for Forestry Commission (England), Natural England and perhaps the Environment Agency (England)” is because the RSPB received some £2M in 2009 from these bodies and almost £12 millions in total from the UK government plus further monies (some £11.5 millions) from other sources - European Union £2,823,000 - National Lottery Funds £2,059,000 - Local councils & other £6,884,000

It is time for the RSPB and other charities (such as the Woodland Trust) that benefit from grants from the UK government to re-consider their policy position regarding Badger TB and the need to cull sick infective badgers and their refusal to allow appropriate authorities on their land to cull the sick tuberculous badgers.

Many of the folk that I know very well are now very ‘well positioned’ are of the opinion that the active campaigning by these charities will undoubtedly result in very significant reductions in their grants – both current and future.

My advice to the RSPB etc is to change its stance or to budget accordingly.

You no longer have a soft compliant irresponsible government out to buy votes!

Mark – should you wish to discuss this matter further – you have my email.


Anonymous said...

Well - the last RSPB blog entry has just flushed out my previous RSPB (moderated) blog entry!

Having published it - all they've go to do is to answer it

And publish and respond to the above blog comments

Ho Hum!


I'm tempted to say that they don't like it up 'em!

Matthew said...

I didn't realise that these 'charities' had soooo much input (as in cash) from such bodies as you describe. Explains a lot. Although our co-editor is not surprised at all. Incestuous lot, aren't they?

Anonymous said...

I agree Matthew - it surprises me too!

In situations similar to this I have always been advised to "follow the money"

Trimbush is no doubt right - hit them in the pocket - just as their opposition to badger culling has hit farmers.

Anonymous said...

Yes - the RSPB could be exposed financially as they state on their website -

"It has always been RSPB policy to hold low levels of financial reserves - we want to tackle today's conservation challenges today. We hold less than four months expenditure in reserve."

Hmmmmm !

Meconopsis said...

This is information from the SNH.

We have responded to each of your questions in turn.
1. In 2008/2009 we paid £892,349.00 in grant to the RSPB, and in 2009/2010 we paid
£1, 296,947.00. This funding, much of which is delivered through our local framework
grants, supports a range of activities that include addressing the condition of
designated sites; bringing National Nature Reserves (NNRs) up to standard; taking
action for priority species, specifically those in SNH's Species Framework; and helping
people learn about and get involved in action for biodiversity. The funding also
includes support for a European LIFE+ project (Machair Grasslands) delivered in
partnership with RSPB as well as a number of awards made on behalf of the
Partnership Against Wildlife Crime (PAW).
2. In 2008/2009 we paid £76,166.00 in grant to the Scottish Raptor Study Groups, and in
2009/2010 we paid £76,855.00. The purpose of this grant funding is to support the
Raptor Monitoring Scheme and the Scottish Raptor Study Groups.
3. In 2008/2009 we paid out £29,971.00 on the Mull Eagle Scheme and £12,674.00 on
the West Highland Eagle Scheme. In 2009/2010 we paid out £30,109.00 on the Mull
Eagle Scheme, £14,362.00 on the West Highland Eagle Scheme and £3,139.00 on
Appin Sea Eagle agreements

Quite shocking to see how much cash the RSPB take from our pockets !

Anonymous said...

COPY OF BLOG ENTRY SENT RSPB Conservation Director - Mark Avery

RSPB's very latest statement re TB

Hi Mark

Thank you for continuing to address the disease of Badger TB

I would ask you (all) to visit the Bovine TB blog -

This blog is managed by sensible long-suffering members of the (cattle) farming community and the latest blog subject “Simplifications debunked” addresses much of the ‘line’ that the previous Labour regime ‘dictated’ and the RSPB no doubt felt necessary to adopt.

On the home page of the above blog you will see a chart which illustrates the impact of various badger culling methods over the years (since 1978) and it is obvious to even the casual onlooker - you don’t have to be an amateur Astrophysicist - that “culling badgers works” and has never had any detrimental medium- to long-term effect on the UK badger population

The Labour regime has done everything possible “not to cull badgers”. Culling badgers isn’t a vote winner – especially if you are vegetarian – as were four out of five Labour DEFRA ministers

The Bovine TB Blog represents the “truth of the matter” – Lord Krebs is now a politician (and visibly moves his lips when speaking) - having received his knighthood, ennoblement and various jobs under the previous Labour government. This is a very sad reality - Krebs has compromised both himself and ‘science’ and for the latter he should hang his head.

Krebs and other senior scientists (such as Pro Bourne – ISG boss) fell into line with Labour – for if they didn’t follow New Labour’s policy line – they didn’t get very far!

It’s all there on the TB blog

There is an important lesson to learn – by not culling sick badgers the Labour regime has incurred costs of many hundreds of £millions, has needlessly slaughtered many thousands of cattle, impacted severely on the livelihoods of farmers and most alarmingly allowed this zoonotic disease (A disease which can be spread from animals to humans – like bird flu) to spread increasingly throughout the UK and can now only be addressed by the massive culling of sick badgers – all totally unnecessary!

Last thing Mark – you have – in your blog – demonstrated that the role of Conservation Director is (say) 50% political – meeting new MPs asap, etc – nothing wrong with that – BUT times have recently changed and the RSPB must - like our feathered friends - adapt to the new environment – or fade away and become extinct!