Incredible turn around on Badger cull.

The government will also begin an exit strategy from the intensive culling of badgers, while ensuring that wildlife control remains a tool that can be deployed where the epidemiological evidence supports it. As soon as possible, we intend to pilot badger vaccination in at least one area where the four-year cull cycle has concluded, with simultaneous surveillance of disease. Our aim is to identify an exit strategy from culling in those areas that have completed the four years of intensive culling by deploying vaccination to the remaining badger population.

I need to read all of this, but it is clearly good news. And it comes from the new Secretary of State who as Farming Minister had consistently supported the Badger cull as sound and important. It is good news for farming (although the NFU will probably not see it that way) and good news for the taxpayer.

It is a bit late, but nonetheless welcome now. And I wonder whether coronavirus played a part in this decision – it’s difficult to listen to the scientists in one (human) disease and be so deaf to their advice in another (animal) disease and not look a bit foolish. Badgers may have coronavirus to thank a little for their coming reprieve, but there are many stalwart folk who have campaigned for a rational approach to bovine TB for many years and they deserve our thanks at this time, too.

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39 Replies to “Incredible turn around on Badger cull.”

  1. The new tactic will be the one they employ with raptor crime, let farmers and keepers keep on killing badgers themselves but instruct the cops to turn a blind eye to it all. Maybe I'm just cynical, but this government likes to privatise things, so privatising crime is right up its alley.

  2. Probably nothing more than us having more vaccine now and we will not be told wether we can vaccinate cattle or not.
    Same old crap from some people about some people knowing someone who knows someone etc etc etc and ten times later they heard in the pub about farmers killing Badgers and Otters then leaving them by roadside
    What bloody rubbish I have lived and worked and socialised with farmers all my life well over seventy years and while it may happen it would be extremely rare and I have never heard of it. Some people just seem to make things up.

    1. Dennis - I think you have tyo accept that the government has realised that Badger culling is not working very well and never will - that's what is happening here.

      1. Well I have never believed the cull as it has been organised would work.
        I think you are wrong when you say it never will as facts prove it worked fantastic for most of the second half of the last century.Of course vaccine probably means we do not need/want that type of cull but for the Government to stop that at that time did neither Badgers,farmers or cattle any favours and cost the taxpayers massive amount of money.
        Think farmers probably think it funny that their restrictions on cattle for BTB far stricter than Governments to Corona virus.
        My guess is most farmers have no hatred towards healthy Badgers,I have lived most of my life with Badgers on farm and family enjoyed them immensely also have never heard any of all the farmers I have known harm Badgers even when those herds have had cattle reactors.
        They have always seemed to obey the law.
        Of course it seems par for the course that most commenters on this blog peddle hatred about farmers.
        Probably says more about them than the thousands of farmers they want to increase this hatred of.

    2. Actually Dennis I think it’s really about it finally dawning on the powers that be that Bovine TB is caused by Mycobacterium bovis and is actually a disease of Cattle -the clue is in the name, ie ‘bovis’ - and is spread to other species,including deer, badgers and hedgehogs by environmental mechanisms which almost certainly include some farming practices. The primary host is not the badger which is unfortunately afflicted by the disease most likely because it comes into contact with infected cattle or cattle body fluids/faeces or infected members of it’s own species and can subsequently be a vector for spread. But slaughtering them in their thousands is plainly not the answer as is blatantly obvious by the results of the cull which has done sweet FA to halt the spread of the disease. Much science needs to be done yet to understand how the disease is disseminated and in the meantime halting this insane animal holocaust and replacing it with something more scientific than shooting by gun toting individuals who have enjoyed a new form of killing for fun! And before you dare to criticise my opinion be warned I KNOW that there are those taking part in the cull who have enjoyed every moment of this shooting spree!! Give the badger a bloody rest and get real!!!

      1. Bill, some things are certain.
        UK has the worst incidence of the disease of any country with large cattle numbers
        It must be difficult to see how it spreads from animal to animal/farm.
        Because (a)to move cattle for sale they have to be tested in previous 60 days.
        (b)Some people try to say the test is not good, but this is the test that had us almost completely free of the disease in the last half of the last century.
        I am a Badger lover but there is no doubt in my mind that Badgers as well as cattle are capable of spreading the disease.
        Absolutely no one who comments on this blog and all the general public who is not a cattle farmer knows the chaos and upset that a herd getting infected causes the owner.

        1. Dennis, absolutely nobody disputes the UK Bovine TB statistics nor the anguish it can cause a Farmer but that does not imply, de facto, that Badgers are the cause of the epidemic and lead to the condoning of something as appalling as their wholesale slaughter!! I suggest you read some of the latest scientific papers which are pointing to other environmental factors helping to promote the spread of TB including the ability of M.bovis to survive long periods in soil. The main question is how it gets there- cattle body fluids & faeces are the likely mechanism- and it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to understand the relationship between such infected material, soil, earthworms and Badgers...or does it ??

        2. "Absolutely" - not so. I am a commenter and I do know what the impact is on farmers. I also know farmers who are vets. who have installed secondary fencing so that their closed-herd cattle cannot touch noses with cattle on the neighbouring farm, who nevertheless have been shut down and who tell me through gritted teeth that the source of infection is "indigenous mammals".

          This falls down because it is a fallacy that probably has a poncey name but amounts to "can't be anything else" (sounds familiar?) and anecdotal evidence from a qualified person is still only anecdotal evidence - but they have taken all the advised precautions to no avail and being decent people haven't resorted to wildlife crime.

  3. It is not hard to see past the clumsy spin in the official Defra announcement and difficult not to observe its timing in the middle of a crisis that diverts attention elsewhere. This is, at long last, the Government recognising that the badger cull has not and never will work, and that the focus of attention needs to shift to farming practice if they are serious about eradicating bovine TB. While that is of course welcome, I note that Defra issuing such a statement a mere few months after Tony Juniper’s ill advised ‘everything’s legit’ blog on the badger cull, shows just what they think of NE. It proves they are not only happy to keep the agency in the dark about impending changes in policy direction, but also that they will hang them out to dry without a second’s thought. Still think Defra are your new best bosom buddies Tony?

    1. Dominic, please explain what farming practices will clear this disease up after reading the rules farmers have to obey.

  4. "Some people just seem to make things up."

    1. That has to be good news for badgers. A great pity DEFRA did not start vaccination a long time ago. It would have been better for farmers and for badgers. While I am sure badger killing by dedicated human killers will continue for a bit, hopefully the killing will gradually fade out.
      One is bound to ask the question though, and that is, why is it this Government always has to be “dragged screaming and shouting” towards doing what is right. Maybe legislation on preventing the use of lead ammunition and the burning of moorland could be next,
      followed by the banning of driven grouse shooting. However I am sure these urgently needed actions, which should have been taken years ago will only happen after a lot more “screaming and shouting” from this Government and its supporters with all their vested interests..

    2. Thanks Coop. Though no doubt the Wildlife Holocaust deniers will just say the culprits were townies on a spree or some such. Or the 'few bad apples' argument.

      1. M.Parry, disgusting comment. No evidence that farmers do this.
        If you have evidence go to the police

    3. Coop, not much evidence of seeing farmer, while I appreciate it would be difficult to catch anyone dumping them.
      Fact is say a farmer with 200 acres would risk what is alleged in this incidence I would suggest it would not happen, he would simply bury them somewhere in that 200 acres.
      He would be nuts to do otherwise.
      Like anyone else in UK innocent until proven guilty and in this case it could be anyone

      1. If you paid attention, Dennis, you'd see that I've not mentioned farmers at all. I've merely provided evidence that Badgers are illegally killed and dumped in an attempt to make them look like roadkill. Your attempts to portray those who comment here as anti-farmer are as crass as those from Trumpists who label any dissenters as "anti-American".
        You seem to view the farming industry as beyond reproach (which is, of course, your perogative, no matter how misguided), but this "red sky at night, get off my land" crap fools nobody, and is entirely counter-productive.

        1. Coop, I took the trouble to look up your link and the suggestion was obvious. You are also unable to point out where I have ever said the farming industry beyond reproach.

          1. Once again, pay attention, Dennis.

            "You SEEM to view the farming industry as beyond reproach."

            As for any apparent suggestion being "obvious": Once more your paranoia's got the better of you.

          2. The guilty often seen accusation where there is none. Shakespeare once said much the same, in Hamlet you know.

  5. Until bTB eradication is recognised as a Wicked Problem with low probability of a solution we will be offered ever more Draconian measures short of offing a badger that will be equally ineffective to those already tried but will take forever for their ineffectiveness to be demonstrated - at the taxpayers' expense, obviously.

    A word-search of the DEFRA document for "wicked" returns a big fat zero. A search for "biosecurity" returns ~60. Biosecurity measures for FMD 2001 in addition to contiguous cull included incarceration of anyone who didn't comply and the killing of their pet goats and the suspension of rights of access to land. It all got quite nasty but was over relatively quickly. Whereas, for bTB, it won't be.

  6. Actually, its all just PR - the cull in the first place, to appease the farming lobby, now its become so unpopular with the general public and costs a lot, so a quiet exit looks feasible - especially as the farming lobby has rather bigger issues on its hands to both worry about and keep in with their Government. +, with a huge majority, the emphasis is clearly shifting from the safe shires to hanging onto the new votes in the north.

      1. Non of this U turn has got anything to do with revised governmental scientific analysis or even governmental economic analysis. It is all to do with Boris placating the person he shares his bed with. Ridiculous. Badgers should share the same legal protection as foxes, rabbit , hares etc. They are not endangered, far from it, they have no natural predators. Landowners should be allowed to control them as and when they see fit. Zero cost to the public purse. They are legal quarry across much of Europe and the Nordic countries, what makes them so special here?

  7. Well I am no supporter of the cull but some facts according to the piece Mark is talking about if I understand them correctly that they claim something like 66% less infected in culling zone and another one of 37% in another culling zone so either they are lying or it has worked better than objectors claim.
    Opponents should at least stop claiming about the scientists say culling is rubbish because for sure many top scientists must have backed the cull.

  8. After four years of culling (2013-2017), there has been a 66% reduction in new TB breakdowns in cattle in Gloucestershire and a 37% reduction in Somerset, the scientific analysis of data by Downs et al showed.

  9. Doesn't matter but how strange that a statistic that is apparently fact and in the piece you highlighted about the disease got so many dislikes.
    Think actually it says quite a lot about people who comment on the blog.
    Very very rarely maybe a total of six times have I pressed the dislike button however much I have disagreed with the comment.
    What I find extremely interesting is having asked many times when people say about BTB farmers need to stop it by better cattle management.
    No one not even one has been able after reading rules farmers have to obey to tell me the answer.Really funny.

    1. Dennis, sorry I have neglected to check in on this thread for a few days and I now see a debate has been playing out. I also see you have challenged me to specify what elements of farming practice need to change.

      I am well aware of the protocols that cattle farmers are already to adhere to to reduce the spread of bTB, but to avoid crossed wires why don't you tell me which particular source you are working from before we debate this further? Neither of us should have the option to weasel out in a fog of uncited references.

      For now, however I would point you back in the direction of the Godfray report (let me know if you need the reference) and one of its principal conclusions, which you seem to either have a blind spot to or to have overlooked. This is (and I quote) "the poor take up of on-farm biosecurity measures and the extent of trading in often high-risk cattle is, we believe, severely hampering disease control measures".

      One doesn't even need to read between the lines. I said farming practice has to change and that seemed to upset you. However I am merely parrotting Godfray. As for these unimpeachable farmers who in your world do everything right by biosecurity, and who Godfray clearly hasn't taken into account, the report also notes that the industry itself accepts the charge. On the basis of the Godfray report, we now have Government finally waking up to the fact that just going after badgers never was and never will be a solution. In other words, farming practice has to change.

      I appreciate that the necessary changes will be painful for the industry. But that does not justify the years of pointing the finger at wildlife while failing to keeping ones house in order. It looks as if that is at long last now beginning to be recognised at Government level, but I suspect that this has happened too late for the history books to be kind to those who have presided over and facilitated an almost Victorian perscution of a species well in to the 21st Century as little more than a side-show.

        1. Dominic, I had not looked on here until today.You need to read the rules farmers have to obey them tell us where we do anything that spreads the disease.
          You simply have no idea of the cost and associated problems of simply getting even one reactor in our herds.
          I had gone quiet simply because you quote things that just suit you.
          Some of the bio security sometimes peddled about is absolutely rubbish,for instance there is no practical way of keeping Badgers out of our cattle fields
          Yes I am this time from now keeping quiet because you do not know much about cattle and Badgers.

  10. Non of this U turn has got anything to do with revised governmental scientific analysis or even governmental economic analysis. It is all to do with Boris placating the person he shares his bed with. Ridiculous. Badgers should share the same legal protection as foxes, rabbit , hares etc. They are not endangered, far from it, they have no natural predators. Landowners should be allowed to control them as and when they see fit. Zero cost to the public purse. They are legal quarry across much of Europe and the Nordic countries, what makes them so special here?

    1. Richard - or maybe Foxes should share the same legal protection as Badgers - it can be argued either way, can't it?

    2. Richard. Your comment is a breath of fresh air in the sense that it is, at least, honest. You want landowners to be able to persecute wild animals when they want, how they want, and to the extent they want. Many have long suspected that this is the real agenda behind the NFU and others' unstinting support for the culling of badgers in the face of the mounting evidence of its lack of efficacy as a means to control bTB. I vehemently disagree with you, but do I salute your honesty.

  11. Once again, the stupidity/ignorance of those who support wildife abuse is revealed by the worn out, parroting that because a species has "no natural predators" its population is therefore reliant on human intervention for it's regulation. It's little wonder that our natural heritage is in such a parlous state when these clowns, with no understanding of basic ecology, are permitted to roam our countryside tooled up!

  12. There are no sound conservation reasons for the blanket protection which badgers are afforded. They are a successful abundant wild animal which cost agriculture and industry possibly millions. The badger is going nowhere, but it’s current place in law is in need of review.

  13. Drivel?!

    Tell me which part of my argument is incorrect? Not abundant? Not successful? Not costing agriculture and industry possibly millions. Not benefiting from gold plated legal protection?

  14. Drivel is the polite word. Are you really stupid enough to think that if a species is abundant, then people like you should be permitted to kill as many as you like, for no good reason? As for your ridiculous claim of "gold plated legal protection": how many thousands have just been killed? Finally, your idiotic speculation regarding the cost to agriculture and industry doesn't really merit a response. However, I suggest that you consider the cost to the tax payer of the cull. It's all too obvious that you're just looking for any excuse to kill something, but you can't come up with a shred of evidence to support your assertions.

    Carry on digging....

    1. Oh I will, used to enjoy a bit of digging back on my the day (only joking, way before my time)

      Where did I say kill them for no good reason? Many species of mammal can be killed legally, some year round like foxes and rabbits, some during certain open seasons, such as some species of deer. No mammal that I know of is currently hunted/ shot is suffering range or significant population contraction ( poss Blue Hare).

      There is no good conservation reason for the ongoing total protection of badgers,

      As for the cost of the badger cull, the inflated cost was almost be entirely due the policing costs required due to the activities of the AR nutters.

      1. "AR nutters". Your flimsy mask slips even further.

        The simple truth is that you can't produce a single valid reason to change the law on Badgers, so you invent your own, based on your warped view of our natural heritage, lamentable ignorance, and complete lack of evidence. Some of us are civilised enough to see that legal protection isn't solely based on conservation status, but also morality (obviously an alien concept for you). Or, maybe we should legalise the shooting of Blackbirds or Blue Tits by little turds with airguns? No doubt others of your mindset parroted the same argument of abundance to justify the killing of Passenger Pigeons, or the slaughter of grebes and egrets for the plumage trade.
        As Mark has already suggested, maybe other species should share the same level of protection (not that this prevents criminal scum from acting in their cowardly fashion), and that day will surely come, as the public are becoming increasingly wise to the myths and falshoods promoted by the plastic, self-styled "countryside" lobby, in order to justify their degenerate practises.

        Once again, you have no rational argument whatsoever.


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