The quoted figure for each square kilometre of the RBCT cage trapped areas was £3,800, which at x badgers per sq.km is nothing short of - crazy.
This figure first surfaced in the Defra publication, 'Cost Benefit analysis of Badger management as a component of Bovine TB control in England', as £3,799 and neatly rounded up, has passed unhindered into TB numbers.
An 'Opinion' piece in Farmers Guardian (sorry, no link) this week, has drawn our attention to yet another Defra anomaly surrounding this assumption.
Jim Webster has placed two documents side by side. The ISG tome "Bovine TB : The Scientific Evidence, A Science Base for a Sustainable Policy to control TB in Cattle .. blah, blah, blah..' And the 'Impact Assessment of Amendments to legislation to allow the Vaccination of Badgers by persons other than Veterinary Surgeons.'
In both processes, areas are mapped, setts identified and cage traps set. In the case of the now defunct Vaccination Trial, large mesh English cages with 2 x 2 inch mesh (capable of taking a shot via any aperture) (In the case of the WAG cull, cages were designed shorter, with smaller mesh from which anything daft enough to enter had to be translocated to be shot.)
The RBCT used the 2 x 2 inch large mesh cages and PQs told us of the wastage for this type of high profile operation thus:
"..... Management records indicate that - over 116 culling operations, across 19 trial areas, between December 1998 and 10th October 2003, during which 15,666 traps were sited - there were 8981 individual occasions where a trap was interfered with, and 1827 individual occasions when a trap was removed."Thus almost 70 percent of traps proved useless - and a published a cost of £3,800 per sq.km . Leading to the conclusion that this method of badger culling, would too expensive.
(Ref: Hansard 8th Dec 2003 Col 218W [ 141971]
But the Vaccination Trial, using exactly the same cages and protocol published a annual cost of £1,440 per sq. km. for trapping and vaccinating badgers.
As Jim says, to account for the £2,360 per sq.km difference, and as they were providing the vaccine, Defra must 'be paying way over the odds for the 0.22 hollow point ammunition'.
(Or have the illegal antics of the Animal Rights Activists during the RBCT cost the taxpayer £2,360 per sq.km ?)
On the other hand, the pen pushers advising Defra and the WAG Ministers, may be somewhat economic with their information on culling, over enthusiastic about vaccinating infected badgers - and a tad
As Jim Webster says,
"At the very least Defra is going to have to go back and prepare these figures properly this time, and ideally under the supervision of competent professionals".Quite.