Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New consultation

Today the Con-Dem coalition government announced a TB strategy for England, which involves a consultation on culling badgers.

The documents can be accessed on the following links:

1. Defra's overview.

2.The Consultation document

3. History of badger control (And for a Defra document, this is quite good. Not as good as ours, but good enough)

4. The scientific argument for Culling

5. Vaccination (We note that the paper does not inform that vaccination of badgers is an annual event.)

6. Veterinary Assessment of badger vaccination.

7. Veterinary Assessment of badger culling

8. Impact assessment

The Defra consulatation document contains the following gem:
"A decision on this policy will be made early in 2011, taking into account
views provided during this consultation, the available scientific and
economic evidence, and the results of the spending review".
An admirable wish list, of which we suspect the latter may play a dominant part.

With grateful thanks to our Staffordshire contributer, for the bedtime reading links.


Jim said...

Interesting how a change of government leads to the ISG report being read in a different way. Thus the new Minister is able to say that the results of the RBCT "demonstrate that badger culling, done on a sufficient scale, in a widespread, coordinated and efficient way, and over a sustained period of time, would reduce the incidence of bovine TB in cattle in high incidence areas."

Interesting also to see that the Badger Trust and the RSPCA still have their collective heads stuck firmly in the sand, judging by the remarks of their spokesmen on Farming Today yesterday and today. The BT representative seemed to think that the balance of damage/benefit as between cattle and badgers was "way out of kilter". Cattle farmers might be forgiven for agreeing with him, but possibly not in the way he intended.

Given that the consultation document insists (quite rightly) that any culling of badgers must be done humanely, one might assume that the RSPCA would be happy, calling to mind their notorious statement to the EFRA committee that they had no problem with the large number of cattle being slaughtered on account of TB because they were killed humanely.

As for finances, the new team seems to have rumbled the fudge inherent in the cost/benefit analysis carried out by the ISG. See para 32 of Annex B which notes a review of the ISG report which "highlighted that the ISG's conclusion that culling is not cost effective is based solely on a consideration of immediate costs and benefits - no account being taken of potential long-term costs and benefits."

Matthew said...

The more we read that Final Report, the more we find, Jim.
And yes, it did concentrate on the immediate cost / benefit of culling "as it was done in the RBCT".
Further work done by Jenkins and Donelly in 2008 and 2010 (and referred to by Jim Paice) showed that even with this 8 nights very occasionally, using cage traps, achieved a distinct, substantial and maintaining benefit to cattle TB.
And this did not take ten years of mish mash culls to achieve either. Protocol was loosened in the last two years of the RBCT and from 2004it achieved more success, with less interference.

Anonymous said...

You farmers are going to pay/do the killing under these proposals.

That makes the cost/benefit analysis (to the taxpayers)rather different.

What chance is there of any farmer led cull being carried out effectively, over a large enough area, and for a sustained period we wonder.

Time will tell.

If farmers get 'the licence' my bet is that they will make an even bigger 'pigs ear' of the job than the much criticized RBCT, and consequently bTB will rise even more

Matthew said...

Anon 5.46

Time will tell.
At least if an area is licensed, then those who have clean testing cattle and who do not wish to disturb 'their' badgers (and there are quite a lot of us) have a choice. Or could even apply to vaccinate.

As we read the proposals, it will not be the free for all that some of the press have portrayed. A FAC (Firearms certificate) and all the blumph that goes with owning and using a .22 rifle is needed. Not the more common shotgun licence. Thus only gamekeepers, ex WLU people and those who really know what they are doing will be involved. And they should have the experience to clear a whole social group, not scatter it as in the RBCT.

The fact that 70% of farmers need to sign up to an area 'management' plan, does not mean that there will be a wipe out policy for that area.

Time will tell. And a lot of hoops to jump through first.