The much-maligned and misunderstood badgers are still being used as a scapegoat …. The Guardian reports on latest developments
National Farmer’s Union says ‘biosecurity’ measures are not enough as figures show rising rates of TB infection in cattle
Farmers have expressed their frustration at the government’s delay on a badger cull after the latest figures showed rising rates of TB infection in cattle.
The National Farmers’ Union said that in the worst affected areas, such as Staffordshire, Shropshire and Dorset, the increase was over 30% on the previous year.
The national increase was 4.4% once a rise in the number of herds tested was taken into account, the provisional figures revealed.
The NFU said the figures showed that “biosecurity” measures to keep cattle and feed away from wildlife such as badgers, which are known to transmit the disease, and increased testing were not enough to tackle the problem.
The NFU chief farm policy adviser, John Royle, said the coalition government’s delay in bringing in the promised cull of badgers in areas which are hotspots for the disease was “completely frustrating”.
The new government had promised it would bring in a “science-led” policy on tackling TB in cattle, which costs the taxpayer and farmers millions of pounds a year to deal with, which would include culling.
Last September it launched a consultation on how a cull could be implemented, alongside other measures such as vaccinating badgers for the disease, but a legal challenge to a cull in Wales has held up a final decision in England.
Farmers in England have been urging the government to allow them to implement a cull, but animal welfare and wildlife groups are opposed to the killing of badgers, which are protected wild animals, and claim a cull is not the answer.
Royle said: “Despite strict cattle controls that include regular testing, isolation of infected cattle before slaughter, herd restrictions preventing trade, the slaughter of any dangerous contacts and testing every 60 days until the herd has two clear tests, the national and regional incidence of TB in our herds continues to rise unabated.
“Improved wildlife biosecurity awareness has led to practical measures being taken in many instances and the industry recognises the role it can play in reducing the impact of TB on farms.
“However it is not a guaranteed safeguard from infection. We must break the cycle of infection from badgers to cattle or we will never be able to get on top of this terrible disease.”
He urged the government to make the promised decision and provide licences for trained professionals to cull badgers in areas where there are high incidences of the disease.
- UK public opposed to proposed badger cull (retrieverman.wordpress.com)
- Poll suggests badger cull opposed (bbc.co.uk)
- Shooting badgers to be legal under plans for ‘big society cull’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Trust planning badger vaccination (bbc.co.uk)
- Response: This won’t be a ‘big society badger cull’. Bovine TB must be controlled (guardian.co.uk)
- Badger cull ‘may not happen’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Adam Henson receives death threats over badger cull (telegraph.co.uk)
- National Trust to vaccinate badgers as cull looks increasingly unlikely (telegraph.co.uk)
- National Trust to begin badger vaccine trial (guardian.co.uk)
- Badger culling: are ministers about to shoot themselves in the foot? (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
From The Observer
This Friday, London’s Olympia exhibition hall throws open its doors to reveal a cornucopia of sustainable living at the fourth UK Aware exhibition. But it is definitely not a green fair or fayre. “Nothing against them,” says its founder Danny Carnegie, 35, “but we’re all about doing something that shows normal, mainstream people how to be sustainable. We’re not just about preaching to the converted.” And so at this year’s show you can learn how the Feed In Tariff (where you generate your own electricity and sell it back to the grid) will work for you, book a session with the Carbon Coach or learn the art of downshifting.
Danny, a Shropshire lad, trained as a fire fighter in London and decided that he wanted to live with a lighter impact on the planet. However he couldn’t find a single event that would show him how to adopt a sustainable lifestyle so he cashed in his fire-brigade pension and set up the first UK Aware show.
For the past 10 months he has been juggling his fire-fighting shifts with organising the event from his garden shed, dealing with hundreds of exhibitors and speakers. “It’s hard work, but I love it,” he says. He would also love to have a corporate sponsor for next year’s event to allow the exhibitors, many of whom are tiny businesses, to exhibit for free. I ask him what his fire-fighting colleagues make of this double life. “Some of them really get sustainability – one has his own environmental initiative,” he replies, “but you also get fear, ridicule and scepticism, especially around climate change. It’s a microcosm of the real world, and this is exactly what spurs me on to run our own show.”
UK Aware is on 25-26 March (ukaware.com). Observer readers are entitled to a 50% discount on the £7 entry fee by booking tickets online using the code OBS2011