Poll: Is culling badgers the right approach to tackle bovine TB?

As the Government's badger cull policy is dealt a further blow by the failure of another trial to kill sufficient animals, we ask if you think it is the right approach.

badger - stock

Shooting is being halted in Gloucestershire three weeks before schedule after it became clear even a reduced target would not be met.

The pilot scheme was extended by eight weeks after marksmen exterminated only around 30% of the local badger population - well short of a 70% target.

Natural England said it had pulled the plug as the cull was set to miss a revised level of 58%.

Designed to reduce the spread of tuberculosis in cattle, the policy is backed by farmers and vets' groups but strongly opposed by animal rights campaigners.

Is culling badgers the right approach to tackle bovine TB? Vote in our poll below and have your say in the comments section:

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Comments for: "Poll: Is culling badgers the right approach to tackle bovine TB?"

Port Hill Boy

The Star says that culling is backed by vets' groups. By no means all and many vets are adamant that it is a complete waste of money.

But the Star has nailed its colours to the extermination mast.

Onegoodturn

The media has ignored and refused to run with the real stories about the badger cull which is an enormous shame, sadly the only news you can rely on is something the government is happy for you to read. The science, evidence and truths behind bTB and the cull are quite different to what we see reported in the news, we do not live in a democracy any more you only get to read/hear what the powers that be want you to, very sad times.

TheMightyGusset

How about running a poll to see whether readers think that culling Owen Paterson MP might be a good idea ?

Seriously though, the Badger Cull was always going to fail to hit it's targets, and DEFRA and Paterson were always going to try to fiddle the figures and move the goalposts to make it seem otherwise. It's incredible just how dismally they've failed at even that.

Of course, sensible folks might question why we're trying to 'fix' a problem that it's by no means certain actually exists by exterminating a Protected Species ?

dianebartlett99

The majority of vets are against the culling of Badger so are scientists. The government has cherry picked wherever possible in a desperate measure to justify killing healthy Badgers. None of the Badgers that have been shot have been tested,mew asked to independently test the killed Badgers to see if they were carrying the Cattle disease bTB but was denied this.

The reason for this is because the Government knows few if any would be carrying the disease. This government are hellbent to use the Badger as a scapegoat to cover their negligence in not doing something about this cattle disease.

The shooters had to turn to cage trap and shoot when free shooting failed but if we can cage trap we can vaccinate! this being far cheaper than shooting and a more sustainable way forward fir cattle and farmers.

This government has lied over and over to the public in such a pathetic way, they have failed the farmers again, they have brought Britain to a new low within the world.

Owen Paterson is so incapable in his job looking after wildlife and the environment and is dangerously taking Britain back to the dark ages.

One good thing has come out if the totally ineffective Badger cull and that is it has brought together thousands of people who care about wildlife that have been fighting this cull and we won't go away, we will just get more and more followers, come 2015 we will lobby against this Government fir a a Greener Britain.

kerry.j.tyler

Kill every badger in the country and bovine tb will still exist. It is not the root cause so fix the big issue farming methods which have created this disease in the first place! Then maybe we can move forward with our wildlife intact.

denyse.a.shorrocks

Mr Paterson , you know that this is wrong and that it is being done for the wrong reasons ! stop the cull of the badgers you are doing your party no favours ....you have already lost countless votes ! STOP THE CULL

hedgehog

The usual comments appear,

Save the badger/badgers are innocent etc etc , CATTLE only measures have failed badgers are infected,carriers of tb and vaccine is unproven (100% effective) so no change in the mantra then . Farming methods and bio security are the uneducated cries of those who refuse to believe that closed herds can prove badgers bring in the disease . Polittics and personal attacks wont alter the facts of badger involvement. We all know it's called bovine tb but it's just as deadly to badgers so apply cattle measures to badgers and watch what happens .

Wyropiquet

Cattle only measures have not been tried in England. Where they have been rigorously implemented they have worked. Culling is more likely to spread the disease (where it exists in badgers) than end it. There is a clear answer to the badger 'problem' and that is inoculation - an answer that will get public support and finance. In recent months the personal attacks have been both physical and one-way - directed against those who are concerned about needless and terrifying attacks on 'protected' wildlife. We could work together to clear bTB; Defra and the NFU are intent on spreading bTB. The only sane and logical reason for their actions is that they want rid of badgers and aren't in the slightest concerned about TB at all.

db

So when we have exterminated the clean badgers, (about 16% may or may not be infected) do we then exterminate the Deer, Wild Bore, cats, dogs then assume amy other species possible our own children. What then ?

The best way is run a wide scale programme testing for infected animals and then run a targeted vaccination programme.

What has been done so far has cost a high price for Wildlife, for Farmers, for cattle and caused spread of the disease and cause division in rural communities all through one member of parliament who ignores scientific advice.

Clued-Up

@hedgehog

The arguments you've put forward are faulty because:-

1. NO vaccine (human or animal) is 100% effective. Vaccines less than 100% effective in preventing each and every individual from getting a particular disease create "herd immunity" and stop the spread of disease. Vaccination with the human TB vaccine halted endemic TB in the UK - the badger bTB vaccine is actually MORE effective than the human TB vaccine.

2. A closed herd is not necessarily a bTB free herd. The current bTB test misdiagnoses around 20% cattle, leaving unidentified infected cattle to continue infecting their herd-mates.

hedgehog

Clued up.

After 30yrs of being a closed herd and pre move tests and 12month herd tests the cattle are thoroughly tested unlikeyour badgers. Since the badger has been protected and the advent of forage maize (easy readily available food source) the population has grown higher than at any time in history . Therefore why do you dispute all the facts implicating badgers thoughout all your numerous blogs , and your theories over bio security/cattle management usually boil down to faulty arguments of your own. At no time do you propose anything other than cattle only measures . While you mention vaccinating badgers perturbation is never mentioned, having watched the wildlife trusts turn up with high viz safety equipment and shiny galvenized traps the badgers have never seen anything like this. From calm green suroundings to masses of volunteers tramping about the shy badgers will move.

dandymum

Vaccinating badgers does not cause perturbation. Firstly perturbation is not just badgers being scared off it is also other badgers moving in to vacated territory. Secondly vaccination trials have shown that some badgers get trapped 2 or 3 times indicating that they have not found the experience terrifying, they do not move. As no badgers are killed the territory remains intact and no new badgers move in so no perturbation. As to an explosion in the badger population it seems odd you should say numbers were higher than they have ever been when population surveys of the cull areas indicate that badger numbers have reduced by about 60% in one year. Badger numbers at Woodchester Park, where Defra have been studying badgers for years, have seen no big increases in numbers and interestingly no great reductions either. This infers that illegal killing has been going on in the cull zones and that will have caused perturbation. Since btb testing and movements of cattle have been tightened up btb rates are falling and have been for a while without killing badgers. Closed herds can catch btb from many sources, shows, neighbouring cattle, other wildlife, farm cats and dogs, semen (for inseminating) or replacement bulls, the spreading of infected slurry or even from the vet that does your testing if his vehicle, clothing and equipment is not disinfected between herds. Also some cattle have been known to test negative all their lives only to be found btb positive at slaughter, these cows have been spreading infection within the herd and to other herds. The use of the gamma interferon test will help to route out these anergic cattle. See this article for an example of an anergic cow. http://www.bovinetb.co.uk/article.php?article_id=97

Clued-Up

Sigh ...

As explained (repeatedly!) the cattle bTB test now used is wrong 20% time - so regardless of how often the cattle are tested the test results can be inaccurate.

You probably think (reasonably) that if a test gets it wrong once, repeat testing will catch the mistake. That's the basis on which repeat testing is done, after all.

Sadly, veterinary texts indicate that repeat bTB testing of the same cow doesn't always identify the infection. The current test performs particularly badly in identifying cattle at a relatively late stage of bTB infection; naturally such animals are highly infectious to their herd-mates. There's the example of a cow that was tested 11 times and went clear each time tested - on slaughter she was found to be riddled with bTB.

EJANDODIN

The Poll results say it all. No one wants this cull apart from a few bloodthirsty farmers and a cruel and corrupt government. Bovine TB needs to be tackled at source and that means better bio security, less intensive farming and fewer cattle movements.

hedgehog

Dandy mum

Closed herd would not have a relacement bull brought in thats why it's a closed herd. ! 1983 we had a badger around the fields the poulation explosion now means we can easily count 20-30 on any given night. Perturbation is caused by vaccination look at the documented case in Wales, no other wildlife goes into farmyards like badgers do so your emotive cull everything wildlife stance is misplaced at best. Farmers want an effective answer to tb but that is not vaccination at the moment, so get and sort it out and not just hide from the disease or blame farming for a system of production that YOU the consumer insist on (CHEAP FOOD POLICY) . Pay more for a healthy product and we will do it .

dandymum

Okay discount the bull for btb infection and you still leave a huge amount of other potential routes of infection. Badgers have not had a population explosion, numbers have recovered from years of persecution and are now levelled out at about optimum levels for the food available. Badgers enter farmyards as they are an easy source of food due to lack of bio-security measures. Make sure badgers cannot get into food supplies and keep them out of cow sheds and they will stop visiting and badger numbers will probably fall as their food source dries up. As badgers are not removed from clans during vaccination there is no perturbation. I have seen no evidence to suggest otherwise. There has been a small rise in btb in wales but this is not due to the vaccination programme it is just how btb works in herds, one cow can infect a lot of others, so miss one and you get a spike in numbers. I do not consider this to be an emotive issue, this is purely a science issue. Those against culling are against as it is not a good move for badgers or farmers. Culling causes btb rates in badgers to increase which increases the chance of them infecting cattle, vaccination decreases btb in badgers reducing the chance of them infecting cattle. Those against the cull are not hiding from the disease, it is a horrible thing for cattle and badgers and needs to be stamped out. The problem is that no disease like this has ever been eradicated without the use of vaccination. We can vaccinate badgers and if Owen Patterson had got his finger out we could be vaccinating cattle now. Patterson knew about cattle vaccine and the DIVA test back in 2005 and has done nothing about it. The problems with the EU could have been sorted by now and the problem would have been sorted. Don't blame those defending the badgers blame the government for not sorting this earlier. Please do not brand every consumer with the same brush, the same as we do not brand every farmer with the same brush. Some of us are prepared to pay a little extra for ethically produced goods. For pricing the only people to blame are the supermarkets, some people will buy cheap if they can get cheap, if there was no cheap produce they would still buy. If you truly want an effective answer to btb use the gamma interferon test it will find a lot more of the infected cattle and when they are gone btb levels will drop in both cattle and badgers.

hedgehog

Clued-up

More of a bored yawn than a sigh for a reply,

An 80% effective test is superior to no test at all . Christine Glossop (Welsh govt if you need a reference) has asked RSPCA ,National Trust, Badger Trust, Wildlife Trust and Save Me for money and volunteers to help with the Welsh vaccine trials. The Welsh offer a 50% grant to vaccinate badgers (the farmers pay the other 50% ) at £600 per badger of which 70% is a labour cost and everyone of those animal guardians declined or ignored her . This all took place at a conference on badger vaccination where they where all represented, all very well being opposed to something if you haven't got the balls to put your money where your pious mouth is . So prove farmers wrong about you and your kind step up or shut up and match fund those you seem to despise

dandymum

The Welsh badger vaccination project is very expensive, but is still cheaper than culling, early estimates put the cost of a dead badger in the pilot culls at about £2500, final costs will be known when all the government and policing costs are known. I cannot comment on why the animal groups did not respond to the request for help without knowing all the details of the deal on the table, for example who would be the one to benefit, the farmer or the government. What I do know is that in England many badger groups are offering badger vaccination at the cost of the vaccine with all labour provided free and equipment bought by donation from the public. This works out at about £25 per badger. The problem is that the NFU has fed so much mis-information to the farmers that they are reluctant to take up the offer.

EJANDODIN

Hundreds of badgers killed in Somerset and W Glos but not one tested to see if they have the disease. Police costs estimated in the millions. How can this possibly be a sensible policy when vaccinating badgers would be so much cheaper and the farmers would not then be alienated by the general public. Not one of the 1200 badgers vaccinated in Wales was sick. That is the incovenient Truth Mr Paterson. Not the lies you and the NFU spout to justify this heinous crime against our wildlife.

hedgehog

Dandy mum ,

Agree with you on most points , farmers are told cull costs are high because policing costs have been added to it ?

EJand odin.

You sound just like alan petrie, 1200 welsh badgers can only be aquitted by post mortem to prove there innocence just like cows are. As for the lies told by me you are a joke , i read both sides of the argument and know that both have biased views and both will duck all responsibilitiesand leave farmers paying the lion share!!!! Unless the badgers are yours then i have several large bills for you .