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Habsish

Should Badgers Be Culled?

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There are proposals to cull badgers because of the threat of tubuculosis in cattle. Should this occur?

Habsish

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There seems to be a lot of evidence that badgers are one of the vectors causing TB in cattle.

In addition they are a most destructive animal that can wreak damage and nuisance to gardens and buildings with their extensive excavations.

Like foxes they are an addition reason for the decline in the hedgehog population. One of the first questions you are asked when trying to rehome a hedgehog is -"Are there any badgers or foxes active in your area?"

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Why should we decide another animals fate? Who gives that right?

Ever heard of "Nature"?

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Ooooh !, lets be controversial!

As a subsistance critter we could justify wiping out 'threats/competition' but are we needy to do that today? Prince Charlse's 'gamekeepers destroyed the first nest of Golden eagles, south of the border, a couple of years ago...to protect what? Birds bred for 'shooting'???

Cattle are not a 'natural' part of our eco -system, Badgers are. Wolves are also part of our natural environment so why are they gone? 'cause they ate Humans or the stuff Humans want to eat? How much of our eco-system will we knack so we can have our steak and kidney pud?

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There are proposals to cull badgers because of the threat of tubuculosis in cattle. Should this occur?

Habsish

No.

Badgers have lived in this country since the last ice age. Cattle have been introduced by man.

It's disgraceful that the livestock industry has been allowed to infect our native population of badgers to such an extent that the disease is now rife. Intensive agriculture has a lot to answer for. Farmers need to get their hands in their pocket and fund the development of a vaccine that works on both badgers and cattle. Unfortunately the majority are more interested in short term profit and the reputation of prime british livestock.

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No.

Badgers have lived in this country since the last ice age. Cattle have been introduced by man.

It's disgraceful that the livestock industry has been allowed to infect our native population of badgers to such an extent that the disease is now rife. Intensive agriculture has a lot to answer for. Farmers need to get their hands in their pocket and fund the development of a vaccine that works on both badgers and cattle. Unfortunately the majority are more interested in short term profit and the reputation of prime british livestock.

Here we go again, attacking farmers as the first port of call seemingly without having any idea of the nature of the problem.

For the record, farmers and DEFRA have been working hard for years to try to reach a solution for this problem, to date the research program has cost £29.9 million - that's an awful lot of putting hands into pockets.

The problem with developing a vaccine is not that it is ineffective but that there is currently no way to distinguish between a vaccinated animal and an infected one, both test positive for TB. Until it is possible to distinguish between infected and vaccinated animals we have no way of knowing if TB would be entering the food chain,

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Cattle are not a 'natural' part of our eco -system, Badgers are. Wolves are also part of our natural environment so why are they gone? 'cause they ate Humans or the stuff Humans want to eat? How much of our eco-system will we knack so we can have our steak and kidney pud?

Our ecosystem has changed though, we have changed it and like it or not, we can't go back.

However we are custodians of the new ecosystem and slowly but surely we are learning that we cannot bully nature into submission without costs to ourselves.

50 years ago a cull of badgers would have barely hit the headlines but in our new enlightened world it has become a contentious issue and I am encouraged by this somewhat.

Going are the days when pesticides are used indiscriminately. Fertilisers are starting to be used in a more responsible manner, we are slowly learning to work alongside what natural resources are left, the system is far from perfect and possibly we are learning too late. But times are changing!

Technology will be our savior in this brave new world, we are beginning to think around the issues instead of forcing our own hand, to that end I believe the most responsible way out of the issue is one of vaccine and avoidance. But that will bring an added cost to the consumer, the question is then, are you willing to pay to protect the badger? As usual it will come down to consumer choice, I await the launch of badger friendly beef and milk with baited (pardon the pun) breath.

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This article in Farmers weekly would suggest there is quite a bit that farmers can do to help this problem by improving their Biosecurity measures...

Having identified diseased setts, she stopped turning youngstock into at-risk fields, and left the dung heap nearby to reduce the badgers' roaming. She also started feeding supplements to boost the cows' immune systems, and - already a closed herd - swapped from breeding pedigree British Blondes to a commercial beef herd in case of further TB breakdowns. "It's taken a while to get into the routine of closing everything up at night, and the biosecurity measures have cost about £2000. This is not a long-term solution, but we have been TB-free for the past two years, so it does pay dividends."]

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2011/01/31/125288/Video-Taking-steps-to-prevent-TB.htm

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That's an interesting article and it's what I'm refering to when I say avoidance.

I'm an advisor in pest control in horticulture and for years we have been preaching a system called IPM (intergrated pest management) which looks at every aspect of pest control including biosecurity, resistant varieties, monitoring and finally control options.

Agriculture has a similar system which is cally ICM (intergrated crop management)but in my opinion it lags behind the advances that have been made in horticulture, part of the reason for this is the shear scale of agriculture compared to horticulture and the practical application of control measures. However, as I said, times are changing, and that farm in devon is a perfect example of that change.

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This article in Farmers weekly would suggest there is quite a bit that farmers can do to help this problem by improving their Biosecurity measures...

Jilly Greed has struggled with TB at Fortescue Farm, Thorverton, Devon, for years, with the slaughter of pedigree cattle and associated losses costing about £110,000. "Two years ago we improved our management, putting in electric fencing, blocking off gateways, putting calf creeps in the middle of fields - anything to prevent nose-to-nose contact with the badgers."

Having identified diseased setts, she stopped turning youngstock into at-risk fields, and left the dung heap nearby to reduce the badgers' roaming. She also started feeding supplements to boost the cows' immune systems, and - already a closed herd - swapped from breeding pedigree British Blondes to a commercial beef herd in case of further TB breakdowns. "It's taken a while to get into the routine of closing everything up at night, and the biosecurity measures have cost about £2000. This is not a long-term solution, but we have been TB-free for the past two years, so it does pay dividends."]

http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2011/01/31/125288/Video-Taking-steps-to-prevent-TB.htm

You've got to be very careful if you start using electric fencing near Badgers though, if it's placed across their usual run then you can be prosecuted for it. Any form of interfering with Badgers carries high penalties, they're very well protected.

It's a shame we've lost a herd of pedigree native breed cows. I doubt the commercial breed has any better immunity to TB but they're probably lower value so if they become infected, the government compensation comes closer to matching their value than the pedigree, native ones.

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I despair at people's ability to twist reality to suit ecological idealism.

Every serious study has concluded that there's a problem with clean herds of cattle being infected by TB badgers.

The costs of this to the farms involved and the country are enormous but the simple solution - remove infected badgers is some sort of mortal sin.

Fencing badgers out is practically impossible given their tunneling ability, they will often enter winter housing to eat cattle food, dribbling infected urine etc in troughs.

The farmer having cattle destroyed, herd locked up, unable to sell and becoming increasingly overstocked as a result - until bankruptcy looms is portrayed as somehow to blame. Environmentalist claptrap.

Badgers are not endangerd, or cuddly. They are voracious predators of most other wildlife and the increase in their numbers since they became protected is a large part of the reason many bird species have declined in numbers.

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They are voracious predators of most other wildlife and the increase in their numbers since they became protected is a large part of the reason many bird species have declined in numbers.

Probably , but not the only reason, what other reasons do you suppose there could be? Loss of habitat? Pesticide use maybe?

Badgers, like foxes are opportunists and will take advantage of any food source available, take away it's natural habitat and they will forage elsewhere. Of course the cheap option is to kill them, and who can blame a farmer for that when they are loosing money hand over fist. But ultimately badgers are a protected species, just like a farmer who has had to rethink his strategy when a pesticide has been revoked so to must he/she rethink when their hand is forced by other legislation.

But maybe there is a compromise somewhere along the line? My sympathies are in both camps as I work along side farmers and growers who just want to earn an honest coin and who face increasing legislation that makes it harder and harder to do so.

However I consider myself an enlightened chap that hopes that we are growing out of the kill'em all method of pest and disease control.

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I have been involved with this issue for many years and studied badgers at very close hand for over 25years. There are many reasons why badgers should not be culled ! The scientific evidence is already there ! Deer, Rodents, Rabbits ,Hares, etc all can carry Bovine TB. Badgers are easy to find because of their setts,the badger family group can be culled as a unit.

The latest findings when they done a controlled cull in the southwest of England a few years ago, has shown that culling a badger family group creates a void, encouraging neighboring Badger groups to become more mobile and move in and out of infected areas spreading the disease further !!

Stricter control on the movements of cattle has to be enforced.Cattle only show outward signs of TB when the cows are stressed (when they are moved across the country)they can spread it to the new herd before anyone knows they had it . I'm afraid Badgers are a handy scapegoat for lots of reasons, farming, development. Badgers have been in Britain a long time, theirs setts have been in the same places a long time.We are encroaching more and more on their space.Badgers are stubborn animals and stick to their ancestral home to the end.

Vaccination is the only way forward for cattle and Badgers. Bovine TB is a world wide disease, other country's deal with it in a far calmer way than us. South Africa have a big TB problem but have an interest in their Wildlife for economic reasons,so they deal with the problem as a whole, farming with nature.

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To cull or not to cull....

BOTH SIDES OF THE ARGUMENT

For:

  • Badgers can and do carry bovine TB and can pass it on to cattle.
  • A scientific review carried out in 1997 by Professor John Krebs concluded that there was “compelling†evidence for badger-to-cow TB transmission.
  • The existing regime of testing and removal has failed to halt the rise in cases. While infected badgers are on a farm, cattle are at risk.
  • The cost of compensating farmers for the removal of TB reactors keeps growing.
  • Leading scientists, including former government advisor Sir David King, say it would have a significant effect on reducing TB in cattle.
Against:

  • A cull makes scapegoats of badgers, while not addressing the main problem – cow-to-cow transmission. Between the mid-1930s and mid-1960s, testing and removal of infected cattle pushed national infection rates down from around four in 10 to less than one in 1,000.
  • Many believe culling thousands of animals that are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 would be unethical.
  • Improvements to the way cattle are tested and practical measures to keep cattle and badgers apart (such as electric fences around farm buildings) would cut infection rates.

http://www.countryfile.com/feature/british-wildlife/badgers-wales-face-cull-trials

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You've got to be very careful if you start using electric fencing near Badgers though, if it's placed across their usual run then you can be prosecuted for it. Any form of interfering with Badgers carries high penalties, they're very well protected.

Funny isn't it. You can cull them but you can't stop them from feeding.

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A cull makes scapegoats of badgers, while not addressing the main problem – cow-to-cow transmission. Between the mid-1930s and mid-1960s, testing and removal of infected cattle pushed national infection rates down from around four in 10 to less than one in 1,000.

They also culled badgers in TB Hotspots to achieve this.

Killing thousands of cows and endless testing can achieve nothing if there's a reservoir of infection still on the farm.

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All badger culling in infected area's makes the matter far worse! Badgers are very territorial,interaction with neighbouring groups is kept at a minimum.They will fight to the death to protect their territory. When a culling takes place this breaks down and badgers movements are much more widespread, the disease spreads !

All the scientific facts now prove that culling is a waste of time and money,not to mention the cruelty aspect of it! The Welsh assembly agreed with the latest findings and stopped the proposed culling of badgers in the Pembroke region of Wales

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I've been pondering over this cull/not cull dilemma and it strikes me that a fairly important part of this question has been over-looked. The emotional response of not wanting to kill wild animals is pretty instinctive, lets face it, Badgers are fascinating, cute and intrinsically tied up in our imagination in tales like Wind in the Willows from childhood. But, are we actually doing the right thing by wanting to preserve the status quo and not cull them?

TB is a nasty disease, it promises a long illness and lingering death; it is rampant in the Badger population and spreading fast to other animals too, in particular Deer. Surely the humane thing to do is to try to eliminate this disease in the Badger population? Not doing anything merely perpetuates the situation, leading to more and more Badgers suffering. Not culling isn't saving Badgers, it's promising more disease and over time, a less healthy, lower population. By doing nothing, we can do a great deal of long-term harm.

Put it this way, if you had a dog or a cat with TB would you find it acceptable to just let nature take it's course? Would you be happy for your friends and relatives to interact with your pet then take the TB bacteria back to their own pets? Would you be happy to take your dog for a walk knowing you were passing this disease onto other pets with every step? Would you be over the Moon when all those diseased and suffering animals were denied treatment and euthanasia by the vet? I wouldn't.

IMO in the short term, a cull in hot-spots seems a logical way forward but this has to be followed up with a sustained vaccination program. Eliminating or drastically reducing the incidence of TB in the Badger population is the best thing for Badgers, reducing or stopping the transfer to cattle would be an added bonus.

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All badger culling in infected area's makes the matter far worse! Badgers are very territorial,interaction with neighbouring groups is kept at a minimum.They will fight to the death to protect their territory. When a culling takes place this breaks down and badgers movements are much more widespread, the disease spreads !

All the scientific facts now prove that culling is a waste of time and money,not to mention the cruelty aspect of it! The Welsh assembly agreed with the latest findings and stopped the proposed culling of badgers in the Pembroke region of Wales

The scientific facts you choose to look at obviously.

They may well move into cleared areas but it would be difficult to prove there were more movements than in a population close to the maximum sustainable.

The costs could hardly be worse than the obscene mess we have now in the worst affected areas.

See also previous post - we were almost TB free in the UK until things became more 'relaxed'.

Surely a TB free cattle herd and TB free wildlife is the preferred option.

Unfortunately in the real world difficult decisions need to be made for the greater good - for all concerned.

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I suppose we could wipe out all other irritating and useless beasts but it won't save us from the fact that cows are susceptible to TB and maybe we just have to live with it and chuck a few quid at badly hit farmers occasionally. Trying to wipe out badgers is just a miserable, ridiculous and unnecessary approach to one small problem.

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There seems to be a lot of evidence that badgers are one of the vectors causing TB in cattle.

In addition they are a most destructive animal that can wreak damage and nuisance to gardens and buildings with their extensive excavations.

Like foxes they are an addition reason for the decline in the hedgehog population. One of the first questions you are asked when trying to rehome a hedgehog is -"Are there any badgers or foxes active in your area?"

This isn't the Victorian era.

How about pet cats and hedgehogs?

As far as I am aware badgers are not common in Scotland, so this topic rarely comes up locally to me at least. As far as I am concerned the badgers were here first, since this is the 21st century the onus is on us to find a way to have our cattle and badgers coexist.

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I suppose we could wipe out all other irritating and useless beasts but it won't save us from the fact that cows are susceptible to TB and maybe we just have to live with it and chuck a few quid at badly hit farmers occasionally. Trying to wipe out badgers is just a miserable, ridiculous and unnecessary approach to one small problem.

TB is not a small problem, it's a large and growing problem.

The few quid that is chucked at farms (figures from 2009/2001) amounted to £63 million in England alone. The current rate of increase in the disease is 40% annually; if nothing is done to halt the spread of TB and the ensuing slaughter of Beef and Dairy cattle and it continues to spread at the current rate, the annual cost to the tax payer will rise to £1 billion by 2015.

This isn't the Victorian era.

How about pet cats and hedgehogs?

As far as I am aware badgers are not common in Scotland, so this topic rarely comes up locally to me at least. As far as I am concerned the badgers were here first, since this is the 21st century the onus is on us to find a way to have our cattle and badgers coexist.

What's the Victorian era got to do with this?

Cats as a rule don't kill Hedgehogs, Badgers do.

This is the 21st century although I'm not sure why this is significant?? People are trying to find a way for Cattle and Badgers to co-exist.

The move to cull Badgers isn't a drive to make them extinct in this country, there are no plans to wipe them completely from the face of the UK, merely reduce their numbers.

I take it everyone is happy for Badgers to dwindle in numbers due to TB infection?

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Badger populations look after themselves very well without us humans interfering!(why do humans think we have to control nature or else !) Badgers being a social animal have their own methods to control populations in the social group,in short if the group grows to its capacity the females will not produce young in the next season. The delayed implantation method of reproduction insures that the fertilized egg will only develop if the female is not stessed in any way.They need a quiet part of the Sett to lay-up undisturbed to induce development of the egg. The badger group that I study show a definite pattern over the years, which has kept the group about the same size for the last 25 years.

Badgers have been around roughly in their present state for between 3 and 5 million years.They have shared Britain with Hedgehogs since the end of the last ice-age, living roughly in the same enviroment for thousands of years.I think we should look at other reasons why Hedgehogs numbers are falling.

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