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Animals Count. Including badgers!

sleeping badgerThe Welsh Assembly has published a consultation on the eradication of TB as plans to cull badgers in Pembrokeshire are underway. Wales thereby ignores the decision made in England not to cull badgers because it is an ineffective method to control bovine TB, and it ignores the many thousands of concerned Welsh citizens opposed to such a cruel cull.

The Minister for Rural Affairs is satisfied by the available evidence that bovine TB exists in the badger population in Wales and that the disease is being transmitted between badgers and other animals in Wales, and; the destruction of badgers in parts of Wales is necessary in order to substantially reduce the incidence of bovine TB in Wales.

The Consultation on the Tuberculosis Eradication (Wales) Order 2009 under the Animal Health Act 1981 proposes 'a proactive non-selective cull of badgers within an intensive action pilot area', which means effectively wiping out the badgers in all of North Pembrokeshire.

As Georgie Monbiot argues in the Guardian, 'the plan is brutal, futile and incomprehensible. It's not just that. As Lord Krebs showed, eradication programmes like this cannot do much to control the disease.'

Animals Count would like to reiterate that based on scientific evidence, the best approach to tackle bovine TB is to improve cattle testing. Animals Count will submit a response to the Welsh Assembly Consultation.

View our response to the consultation here

24 July, 2009

Badgers earn a reprieve

In response to the news that badgers earn a reprieve as government rejects a mass cull, the following letter was sent to the media:

"In recent weeks Hilary Benn has been inundated with emails and letters from concerned citizens who care about the fate of badgers. The Independent Scientific Group’s authors demonstrated last year that Sir David King’s report, which included recommendations to cull badgers in order to control bovine TB, was flawed in many ways.

Bovine TB is primarily caused by poor husbandry methods; farmers should be given the opportunity to improve these methods and protect cattle, rather than support killing hundreds of thousands of badgers just because they believe this will address the root problem.

Animals Count, a political party for people and animals, is very pleased with the news that badgers in England are now unlikely to be mass culled, and we strongly urge the Welsh Assembly to overturn their decision to kill badgers."

5 July, 2008

© J. de Boo Just weeks after Sir David King, Chief Scientific officer, recommended badger culling as a solution to bovine TB problems (often caused and spread by intensive crowded and filthy conditions in which cows are kept), his advice has been criticised by an independent professor and authors of the original Independent Scientific Group (ISG) report on badgers and bovine TB.

According to the Badger Trust the ISG's analysis shows that Sir David King made fundamental scientific errors in his use and interpretation of the information in the ISG's final report on bovine TB. The ISG reveals that Sir David:

  • Incorrectly interpreted the significance of statistical confidence intervals;
  • Excluded important data without justification;
  • Failed to consider ecological data which supported the ISG's conclusions; and
  • Misunderstood mathematical modelling of TB and consequently under-estimated the benefits of cattle-based TB control measures;
  • Called for badger culling in areas that are too small to be beneficial, without providing scientific evidence to support his advice.

The Badger Trust concludes 'by default, Sir David's views on bovine TB should not be taken seriously by politicians who have promised to base their policies on sound science.'

In addition Sir King also suggested on 28th November that 'Brown must embrace GM crops to head off food crisis'. A campaigner for Friends of the Earth rejected his claim and stated "we need to urgently tackle the environmental challenges. This requires investment in worldwide sustainable farming methods which meet local environmental and social needs, a reduction in meat and livestock production and a freeze on the rush to develop agrofuels.'

Being discredited on a number of occassions, Animals Count urges the government to ignore Sir King's advice on badgers (and other issues) and to improve cattle-based measures instead.

30 November, 2007

Read DEFRA's response to our email here.

© J. de Boo Chief scientific adviser to the government Prof David King urges for a badger cull in areas where cattle TB is present, despite the fact that the report by the Independent Scientific Group in June 'indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better.' Possibly up to 60 thousand or more badgers are under threat this time.

More than 1,000 farmers have signed up to participating in a badger cull if a licensing scheme is sanctioned. A spokesperson for the National Farmers Union said that 'despite the large area covered [70%], it would not be a ‘mass cull’, as this would not be acceptable to the public. It would be a ‘proper co-ordinated cull of diseased badgers’, in conjunction with Animal Health.'

Prof. King claims he only looked at the science; however, a Badger Trust spokesperson said that Prof. King's 'recommendations repeat virtually word for word the opinions of farming unions and the cull mad vets in Defra. This is a highly-politicised rush to judgment, which, ludicrously, contains no cost benefit analysis.'

The Independent Scientific Group advises that TB can be rapidly reversed and brought under control by improving the cattle testing regime which currently misses around 1 in 3 infected cattle leaving them to infect other cattle in the herd.

Animals Count calls on the government not to cull the badgers and to improve cattle testing. The debate about badgers as culprits has lasted long enough. Leave the animals alone!

22 October, 2007

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