Tackling zoonotic Tuberculosis, a Grade 3 pathogen - where ever it is found - is not an option for Defra. They are signatories to International agreements which seek to eradicate this disease, to protect human health. And that includes wildlife, if it is found there.
Hence the deafening silence - [link] on this technology which allows the infected badger group to be identified with stunning accuracy. Far better to set Badgerists against livestock farmers, in a parody of the Roman arena and let them fight it out. This of course, after giving the former, the tools with which to find their prey - [link]
So what is asked in this latest wheeze which may invoke yet another delve into Queen May's pockets for a Judicial Review and kick the control of badgers with zTB into the long grass?
This consultation is a short questionnaire which seeks to reduce the minimum area for a map drawn population control badger cull from 150 sq km to 100 sq km. Now that was the size of the
Together with a smaller minimum size, Defra also propose to increase the amount of landowner participation required to be accessible for culling to '90 per cent of land to be accessible, or within 200m of accessible land'. That is a complicated mathematical formula which takes no account of the presence of disease at all, and may in fact be more difficult to achieve in practice than the previous 70 per cent requirement. Who knows?
There is also a proposal to increase the time 'allowed' for culling but with Natural England giving itself the right to stop the cull at any time it thinks fit. They explain:
We want to know what you think about our proposed licence changes. They will provide more flexibility in the control of badger populations in areas where bovine TB is a problem and will increase the potential to achieve disease control benefits. The proposals would apply to applications to Natural England for a licence from 2016 onwards.Of course if Defra used the research - [link] into the identification of infected setts, for which
On superficial examination, these proposals seek to tweak a flawed policy, which in turn was based entirely on a politically corrupt - [link] concept. And our response will reflect that.
We would also question the roll of an environmental organisation such as Natural England in the licensing of what is ultimately an obligation to public health. And that concept could be explored further later this year.