Saturday, March 24, 2012

TB takeaways?

One thing that most farmers with cattle locked down just cannot get their heads around is how badgers can be moved around the country, quite legally.

The main culprits, are rescue 'sanctuaries' which take in orphaned or injured badgers, 'mend' them (maybe) and then release. The problem is they do not necessarily release these animals where they were found, but any patch of land where the owner has given permission.

Based in Somerset, we covered the Secret World sanctuary's exploits in this 2004 posting. And owner Pauline Kidner quite openly said that she questioned whether releasing these animals where they had been originally found was wise as when Secret World had done this, the badgers were mugged again. Or even killed.

Yesterday, Western Morning News carried another 'aaarrrrr' story from Secret World, illustrated with a armful of baby badgers.
These cubs are being hand reared and fed every few hours by the country's most experienced badger expert, Pauline Kidner, and her dedicated team.

Some of the cubs admitted at Secret World are from the area designated to be used in a badger culling exercise in a government initiative to help farmers with the catastrophic TB virus in cattle where it is argued that infected badgers are to blame.
It would seem pedantic to remind the author that m.bovis is not a virus but a bacterium, but we'll do it anyway. The main point is that these cute, cuddly, baby badgers have come in from 'areas designated to be used in a badger culling exercise'.
From areas of endemic tuberculosis then. And where exactly will they end up?

For this we would remind readers of answers to our PQs on this subject:
1. That it is NOT an offence to take a badger from the wild, if the reason for its removal is: "solely for the purpose of tending it". furthermore, as a native species:
"there are no specific restrictions under current law regulating where badgers are released once they have recovered. Normally once fit enough to be released into the wild, the badger will be returned to the location where it was originally found. This approach is recommended on welfare grounds due to their territorial nature, and also to avoid transmitting disease."
6th Jan 2004: Col. 249W [1444446]

Not by Secret World it isn't.

2. The captive badgers are supposed to be tested three times using the old Brock test, which fizzled out as a live test as it was so unreliable. It delivered just 47 per cent sensitivity on a negative reading. However this procedure is not compulsory.
"testing guidelines are not mandatory, but are set down in a voluntary code of practise'
30th Jan 2004: Col. 543W [150609]

3. Animals testing positive should be euthanized but what about the animals they have socialised with?:
This protocol does not advise destruction of badgers who have had contact with a test positive badger. It should be emphasised that this voluntary protocol was not devised or approved by Defra."
Ref 6th Feb 2004: Col. 1109W [150583]

Well who the blazes did devise or approve it then? And why cannot Defra lift its collective head out of the sand to block this very worrying (for cattle farmers)loophole?

This week, we have heard of relocated badgers being taken to Leicestershire's new National Forest, to South Yorkshire and even further north and eastwards. And from where have they come? As Ms. Kidner proudly says in WMN this week: some are 'from areas which are designated to be used in a badger culling exercise".

You really couldn't make it up.

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