Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Paying twice?

We note with interest and not a little curiosity that the press has released a set of figures - [link] which  assess the cost of the pilot badger culls using free shooting, at £4,100 per badger shot.

Wildlife charity 'Care for the Wild', through various sources, has attributed the costs of the shooting parties thus:

Farmer contribution was assessed at £1.49m, with policing of the cull areas, including police travelling time accounting for £2.66m.

But the biggest slice of  the £7.3m largesse goes to Natural England, FERA and Defra who, having dreamed up the most complicated, bureaucratic and divisive - [link] load of tosh ever, trousered £3.17m. 

One may wonder, what these governmental quangoes do for a day job, if this sort of 'work' is audited separately? And it also bears pointing out that in most civilised countries, the control of zTuberculosis whatever its source, is by statute. These laws are not subject to add on 'policing' costs and they invite custodial sentences for those who break them and encourage its spread..

Spokesman for 'Care for the Wild,' Dominic Dyer, also claimed:
... the figures undermined any justification for rolling culling out to new areas this year and claimed that, over four years, the costs of culling would outweigh the financial benefits of reduced disease incidence by more than seven times.
Those simplistic mathematical gymnastics ignore a very important side effect of allowing widespread zTuberculosis to decimate our cattle herds.  And that is the cost to the UK economy of another trade ban. - [ link] Which may be the not insignificant result of Defra's fiddling while this disease spreads not only throughout our tested sentinel cattle, but other internationally traded mammals - [link] and, as we saw in the 1996 'Beef Ban', the hundreds of products which cascade from them.

Finally, to compare this pilot cull with the cost of vaccinating badgers is just plain naive.

Conveniently ignoring as it does, both the efficacy of available vaccine (poor) and the disease status of any candidate (unknown) - should it volunteer to be cage trapped and jabbed at all. But also Natural England and FERA appear to require no data whatsoever on either numbers of badgers to be vaccinated, disease status of that population or the percentage of those totals which actually volunteer for a jab.
This seems strangely one sided one sided to us - to the tune of £3.17m.

But cost and potential trade bans aside, the main difference is that dead badgers don't spread zTuberculosis, either amongst themselves or to other mammals. And that is the point.


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