Saturday, July 27, 2013

EU funding opportunity.

Two stories have passed our radar this week which we have combined, as they offer a unique opportunity which may attract anyone applying for the gravy train opportunity of EU funding.

The first is a clip from the BBC website, explaining that as Wales is pretty cash strapped at the moment, farmers will be asked to fund or co-fund a country wide vaccination programme for badgers.

Now before most farmers dip through the straw, baler cord and nails to the bottom of their deep pockets, they should be asking two questions. The first is how much will this cost? And the second, what do I get for the cash? In other words does this work?

The Welsh Assembly Government has been indiscriminately jabbing badgers in Pembroke for well over a year now, and in April, we reported the cost of the exercise, at £662 per badger. Meanwhile incidence of cattle breakdowns had rocketed. Not that we would be reckless enough to add 2 and 2 and make anything out of that at all. But cage trapping genuinely wild badgers is substantially different from cage trapping the peanut fed pets living at Woodchester Park. And badgers 'infected' with zoonotic tuberculosis can easily become 'infectious' when stressed. That means shedding copious amounts of bacteria.

The cost of cage trapping is a fixed cost involving bureaucracy (licences), labour, man (or woman) hours, vehicles, cages and peanuts, while results (number of badgers caught) appears to be very variable. And as these animals have not had the benefit of a health check, their disease status is variable too.

The second story came in a message from a contributor, describing the efforts of "two nice girls" from London Zoo, who turned up in a shiny, brand new Land Rover, to cage trap wild badgers in SE Cornwall.

This project was to fit them with transmitter collars to see how they interact with dairy cattle. Why dairy cattle and not beef cattle, sheep or alpacas is not explained. And it would be churlish to point out that like so many other badgery 'research projects', this particular exercise has been bought and paid before.  But we'll do the link anyway, as we have no doubt that it will all be repeated again.

 The story :
"Two nice girls from London Zoo (who appear to have the contract to do this) duly turned up in a brand new Land Rover back in the spring and I helped put the traps out around our (expanding) badger sett. They came every day to put peanuts down with a view to catching some badgers after a few weeks when they had got used to the traps.
I saw one of the girls again a couple of days ago (they had been accessing the sett from our neighbour's land as he is the one with the dairy cows), and she told me that they had failed to catch a single badger from our sett, and in fact had given up trying. []
The badgers had apparently gobbled up the peanuts round the sett entrances but had proved to be completely trap-shy."
So putting these two stories together, we believe more than ever, that vaccination of wild badgers is an absolute no-no, even if the vaccine was fully licensed and its efficacy proven by post mortems, (which it is not) and even if the effect on cattle breakdowns was substantial, (which it won't be because up to half the badgers caught are already infected).  But mainly because many of these damned badgers won't go into Defra's cages.

So being of a cynical nature but with a good sense of humour, we see this as an ideal opportunity for the magnet of EU funding. Training genuinely wild badgers to enter Defra's cage traps. It could take a while... 

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