achieved that [ link] with bells on. They have slaughtered 45, 831 animals in the 12 months to September 2019 in Great Britain.
Meanwhile a bit of good news from the scientists. It has been found by DNA sequencing the bacterium which causes zoonotic tuberculosis, that the disease is ten times more likely to be passed from badgers to cattle, than between species.
This was a 15 years study, and is published in elife sciences - [link] for those who like a bit of light reading.
The farming press covered it in more simple terms - [link] And the conclusion was that 'badgers played a significant roll in maintaining infection in cattle populations'.
Well no s**t Sherlock. Pardon our language - but really? Really? Who'd have thought?
The paper quotes thus:
"Crispell et al. show that complex patterns of contact between cattle and badgers likely drive the persistence of tuberculosis in cattle, also known as bovine tuberculosis.
In three separate analyses, Crispell et al. compared the genomes of M. bovis found in cattle and badgers, the animals' locations, when they were infected, and whether they could have been in contact.
The analyses found that M. bovis was likely to have been transmitted more frequently from badgers to cattle rather than from cattle to badgers. They also showed that transmission within each species happened more often than transmission between species."And then the inevitable begging bowl:
"If these results are confirmed by other studies, they may help scientists develop better strategies for controlling tuberculosis in British cattle. In particular, controversial control strategies – such as badger culls – could be more targeted to better combat tuberculosis in cattle but have less of an impact on badgers."As our graph above so eloquently shows, shooting cattle with little (or in most cases, no) control of infected wildlife which share their environment, is as futile as it is expensive.
And more research achieves very little too, when taken in the context of disease control.
However culling which is targeted at the disease itself is sensible. But it also means that Defra cannot hide behind its farmer 'population controlling culls' and abandon respoinsibility for its own role in the eradication of a Grade 3 zoonosis.
We all wish UK's farmers a Happy Christmas, and its cattle, a TB free one.