Badger consultation

By Andrew Gray (local userpage) (p1140372) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Andrew Gray (local userpage) (p1140372) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The government is consulting on relaxing the criteria that need to be met for farmers to get licenses to kill badgers in trial areas.

This government is dead keen to give the NFU and farmers greater ‘flexibility’ in killing badgers with the supposed aim of reducing bTB.

We need to reduce bTB. We may need to kill some badgers to do it – but the current approach is not based on the science and is likely to make things worse for farmers whilst killing lots of badgers.

ZSL’s Rosie Woodroffe has laid out the case against the relaxation of the licence criteria and indeed the case against badger culling forming much of an answer to bTB at all in an excellent blog here. I ask you to read it and then to respond to the Defra consultation (it’s quite quick (5 minutes) and very easy).  The consultation closes on Friday so please do it now.

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16 Replies to “Badger consultation”

  1. I will respond to the consultation but the evidence to date would indicate that the Government has made up its mind. Having ignored scientific advice and public opinion so far, the likelihood is that it will also ignore the outcome of the consultation (except in the unlikely event that there is overwhelming endorsement of its plans).

    1. Jonathan - indeed. But it's only five minutes of our time and remaining silent always seems like giving in.

      1. The deadline for this is soon, so the following link might help:

  2. The government consistently ignores the facts surrounding bTB: most importantly the huge range of other animals that are infected by it; Some 30+years ago I sat on the MAFF Badgers Panel, and even then it was known that rats and voles carried TB, but little research was carried out on the role they played, despite the fact they were often in direct contact with cattle. Now, wild boar, deer and many other soecies are also known to be involved. But, as has been frequently pointed out, the Government does not want to base its policy on science, it is based on appeasement of some farmers .

  3. Firstly I had better point out I am neither pro or anti cull would just like to have this massive problem solved for farmers,there cattle,Badgers and other wildlife,maybe even pets if it carries on and gets seriously into other wildlife.
    If only instead of everything that is put forward to solve this problem someone would put forward a workable solution.
    Lets face facts.It seems vaccination of cattle is out of the question,think it seems on the grounds that we would not be able to export meat,maybe even as we are in the EU we cannot anyway but I do not know.
    It seems total vaccination of Badgers is too big a job and costly for Government to do every year?.
    Unless there is something radically wrong with the test then the on farm cattle testing should be adequate,lets face it I think it suits pro-badger groups to blame it all on testing and farm bio-security but do not ignore the fact that all through the last half of 20th century the testing and farm movements were not as strict by miles as they are now and BTB was without doubt kept under control indeed it seems to have increased massively with Labour winning election in or about 1997,coincidence??.
    There is a answer however unpalatable to myself as well as everyone else and that must be that where on a farm cattle are slaughtered those Badgers on that farm have to be tested for TB(surely that is possible)and any infected are put to sleep.
    It must be the height of stupidity to slaughter cattle on a farm then restock with a almost certain reservoir of infection still in residence.
    Presently we are doing no one or any animals domestic or wild any favours plus we are looking mugs into the bargain as other country's have much less BTB maybe even none or very little.

    1. The problem, Dennis, is that badgers move. Killing the badgers in one territory (which probably doesn't correspond to a farm boundary) simply creates a vacuum into which excess badgers from elsewhere will colonise. These neighbouring badgers may also be infected (probably will be in TB hotspots) so you're back to square one.

      Actually it's worse than that, because just as cattle movements help to spread TB around, which is why they are controlled, so do badger movements (which cannot be controlled). Shaking up the badger population by creating vacant territories, whether by shooting, gassing, or whatever, actually helps TB to spread from one badger group, (clan) to another and hence one farm to another. That's why the cull is doomed to make the situation worse for farmers - it's not possible to kill a high enough % of badgers to eliminate TB, all you do is make the infected survivors move around, meet, fight, etc and spread the infection even further.

      1. JBC,well in my opinion of living with badgers on the farm and coming in the garden coupled with what I know of nature is that Badgers move around all the time.Just consider this if Badgers stayed in their own groups then they would become desperately in-bred and usually in-breeding means very weak animals unable to survive.
        Nature always as far as I know with all animals takes care of this by the fact that as the young males become almost adult they are literally kicked out to go out and find their own territory so my guess is that it suits Badger groups to peddle the fact that this movement only happens when Badgers are culled.
        It just has to be a fact that this movement happens all the time or are they trying to say that Badgers defy the system built in to keep a strong fit population.
        Oh come on these clever scientists know better than that,in fact I believe what they are peddling may be similar to the YFATB.
        This BTB is a massive problem and does not deserve all sides peddling mis-information.
        I do not intend this as a pro cull comment but natures way of moving wild animals around to keep a strong viable population.Birds do it all the time just the same,indeed I can only think of one instance where this law of nature does not occur.

        1. I don't think anyone is suggesting that undisturbed badgers never move beyond their territorial boundaries, Dennis. As you say, there will be movements of young badgers on reaching maturity and this helps prevent inbreeding. The problem is that the research has shown that partial culls result in a breakdown of the normal social behaviour of badgers and a significant increase in ranging behaviour that increases the potential to spread disease. Experience with culling trials indicates that the necessary level of culling to avoid this is virtually impossible to achieve.
          As you indicate in your post below bTB is a very serious problem for a variety of reasons including the trauma and stress experienced by farmers when herds have to be culled and the massive economic cost incurred. A solution must be found but the scientific evidence available so far indicates that badger culling is not the solution. Ministers seeking to push ahead with it are ignoring the science and appear to simply want to be seen to be doing something irrespective of whether or not it will achieve anything useful.

    2. I recall that Prime Ministers in 1973, 1981, 1992 were Heath, that woman, Major - respectively

    3. Actually, btb increased massively after cattle movement restrictions were lifted post foot and mouth disease, when farms needed to replace their animals. Very, very few badgers develop tb to the point they become infectious. If you look at Defra sample post mortem stats, alpaca, deer, pigs, sheep etc can all carry it. The NFU are now starting to shout about culling deer. Are we just going to wipe everything out to keep the NFU happy?

    4. When will Defra learn? Hen Harriers, Badgers, watering down of protective legislation, changing rules on charities ability to use Judicial Review, what next?

      To badgers .... how good is the bTB test?


      Had these farmers not been so insistent and refused to have Boxter slaughtered, then a perfectly healthy animal would have been slaughtered needlessly. How many others have, how many badgers have and how many of these animals have had a post mortem to check their bTB satus?

      Even back in 2009 we heard “I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician who said, we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers”. Prof. John Bourne (Chair of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bovine TB.

      Defra, science - mmmh, do they know what evidence based is, do they understand cost benefit analysis? £16m+ and estimates of up to half a billion, there has to be a better solution and that what the majority of reasonable people want surely?

      I love Somerset Brie, but I'm having to abstain because I am not prepared to support a market which sees badgers slaughtered on bad science, and as a rural resident I am not happy about not being able to support British farmers.

      “The Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers." See–-wales-shows-how-to-beat-the-disease-with-48-drop-in-4-years-(and-no-badger-cull).aspx

      Incalcitrance? Politicians are as big a part of the problem as either side of the fence I fear ....

  4. It seems that people think farmers hate Badgers,well that is not correct in my opinion as for one thing even if as most people agree some Badgers are infected and can pass the disease to cattle then in all probability only cattle farmers could have a reason to dislike Badgers.
    Fact is that most farmers in my opinion who have not had a problem with BTB are quite happy to have them on their farms and hope both cattle and Badgers stay BTB free.
    Obviously where farmers are losing cattle to BTB then there is bound to be a dislike of them and I doubt general public cannot grasp the heartache lots of farmers feel slaughtering cattle they feel responsible for and not being able to sell any cattle except for slaughter until clear of BTB.I assure you someone whose herd is bringing a hundred calves each year for sale wonders whatever they can do.
    Clear up this mess of BTB and there would be very few farmers who would hate Badgers.
    I would point out that as most cattle farmers consider some cases of BTB are caused by Badgers in my opinion those farmers have been quite tolerant(there must be a better word but I cannot think of one)not to take matters into their own hands and kill many of them,most of these story's about this happening are just that,any silly fool can think them up and bigger fools repeat them.Compare this with how Hen Harriers get killed and cattle farmers do not deserve to be called Badger haters.

  5. Well thank you all for not suggesting I dislike Badgers and as I pointed out never intended my comment to suggest that I am pro this cull.
    i will back anything that will solve BTB but really unfortunately in my opinion none of those or at least none of the cleverest of them who oppose the cull come up with a alternative that would eradicate the disease.It must be eradicated whatever the initial cost and pussyfooting around over about the last 18 years has only resulted in the fact that we have about ten times the cases of BTB that we had previously and spread over a larger area with possibly or almost certainly more Badgers and wildlife infected.

    1. Hi Dennis. I for one have no trouble believing that you are not a badger hater and I have never sought to suggest you are. I am puzzled though at your apparent belief that the onus is on those who are opposed to the badger cull to propose an alternative solution to the bTB crisis. This would perhaps be a reasonable position to take if the badger cull would genuinely solve the bTB problem but the scientific evidence shows that it will not solve the problem and could actually make it worse. There is no virtue in doing something just to be seen to be doing something no matter what and if what you are doing not only has no benefit but is also harmful to something else then it is simply wrong to pursue that action.

  6. Jonathon,what you say is true in many ways but unless cattle movement laws are regularly being broken then I find it hard to see how any progress can be made on that side.Lets face it cattle and Badgers for all practical purposes are regularly going to use the same fields for food so those who talk of that type of thing are maybe living in not the real world.
    Having looked at what is possible then it seems the vaccine for Badgers is only £14 per dose and a volunteer group in Devon seem to vaccinate Badgers for £30 a go which covers the vaccine and petrol for the volunteers who have been trained.
    I take your point about why should those opposed to the cull propose a solution but as the Badger Trust has lots of local branches if they offered something along those lines then those that are pro cull would be on slippery ground I would suggest.
    After all a challenge to the cull in Wales has resulted in a vaccination program which from how I see it has cut the BTB in cattle by half and every chance of further progress.A lot is made of the fact that on the face of it they do more cattle testing but in UK in general testing is done just as frequent in areas where herds are affected.
    The Badger population has to be cleared up at some stage and if the Badger Trust set up similar volunteer systems then it becomes a really cheap alternative to culling anyway and in all probability would clear up the disease in Badgers.
    There must be plenty of volunteers after all those in the Badger army trying to stop the cull also upset the Badgers feeding pattern and would I suspect happily volunteer to help a vaccination program also there must be several retired people like myself who must have injected hundreds of animals would need little training to spend a few mornings helping.

    1. Hi Dennis,
      It's great that they've achieved the reduction in Btb in Wales.However, their scientists and government are actually attributing this to the adoption of stricter cattle measures rather than the badger vaccination scheme. I'm afraid, until we concentrate on cattle rather than badgers in England, you aren't going to get a solution.


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