Thursday, July 09, 2015

Reverse gear?

After the announcement that the second and subsequent years of  Northern Ireland's  Test Vaccinate Remove (TVR) project would begin the 'R' bit - the Removal of badgers found to have tuberculosis, and the NI Badger Groups reported approval of the project, we were on the point of constructing a 'Dear Dominic' letter to our lot.

This may have been somewhat premature.

The BBC - [link] are now being accused of bias and the 'C' word is firmly out of bounds to the NI badgerists, who appear to insist that all the bacteria associated with 'bovine' TB is, er 'bovine'. And thus only in cattle. The project is primarily a 'Vaccination' exercise, they say.

But a BBC report, 'biased' ??  Surely not.

So what is the spokesman for the NI badgerists reported to have said, which has led to this about turn and his head on the proverbial?

 In the BBC report, NI's chief vet, Robert Huey explained the TVR policy thus:
"It's consistent with what we're doing in cattle," he said. "What we do with cattle is that we test and, if animals test positive, we remove. It's the exactly the same thing we're doing for the badgers. What I like is the consistency of the approach."
And in the original BBC report, Peter Clarke of the NI Badger Group was said to have backed it [the TVR project] because it is based on science rather than the "Gatling gun" approach that was taken in England.

Also mentioned was the same point made by the Chief Vet, (above), that a parallel action on tested badgers, to that of test and slaughter of reactor cattle appeared the 'proportionate approach'. But having received complaints from the NI badgerists, the BBC censored their strapline for Mr. Clarke to:

He said the scheme is "proportionate, has buy-in from everyone and at the end of the day, what we all want is healthy cattle and healthy badgers".

So what was wrong with that? According to social media - [link] and repeated on the NI Badgerist's web site, quite a lot. Primarily because originally it mentioned the 'C' word rather than the 'V'. They say:
To clarify, in light of a number of critical comments issued in the past few days, firstly the BBC has changed the caption that accompanied Pete Clarke's photo to indicate its actual context, "the TVR project was proportionate and had buy in from everyone". However, the video footage is still very much out of context. Peter Clarke talked extensively about the TVR project in terms of it primarily being a vaccination study but this footage was not included. We are very open to a debate and discussion on the right way forward in Northern Ireland, and elsewhere, in terms of protecting badgers and tackling the issue of bovineTB in general. In order to do so, we would invite individuals to consider the following detailed analysis and statements contained on our website, whilst guarding against poor journalistic tactics that are fuelled by hidden agendas and/or simply sensationalistic in motive: and
We'll leave you to trawl their website, adorned with pictures of shiny individuals, all apparently free of Tuberculosis and waiting to be indiscriminately vaccinated, regardless of their health status.

Their supporters would rather not see the results of this ultimate protection so we will balance that up a bit.

This individual was grossly underweight and had open throat abscesses.

This one was one of a large group, culled in Devon.

All were described as 'grossly emaciated' and their post mortems showed advanced tuberculosis and pleurisy.


The RSPCA - [link] describes tuberculosis in badgers, as a 'slight wheeziness'.

Rather more than that, we would suggest.

So do badgers suffer? Veterinary pathologists say "It would be extremely naive to assume that with this level of disease, they did not." Sadly they remain unseen by their protectors. Victims of a flawed policy..

One can only hope that the 'proportionate response' of a targeted cull, where as well as slaughtering reactor cattle, diseased wildlife is also euthanased, put to sleep or whatever description is used, does not founder because of the anthropomorphic antics of a few.

After reading this reported response from NI's badgerists,  we were hopeful of some common ground in the eradication of this disease.  England's Live Test trial in the early 1990s, was said to be well supported and had no interference, and Secret World's Pauline Kidner makes no secret [pun] of the euthanasia of rescue badgers testing positive to tuberculosis.

But it seems that where tuberculous badgers are concerned, their most vocal supporters are not only in denial, they are firmly in reverse gear on any point of agreement. 

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