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Go-ahead for badger cull likely to anger wildlife campaigners

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

'Control':   Natural England has issued a four-year permit for the 'control' of badgers in an area of West Somerset

'Control': Natural England has issued a four-year permit for the 'control' of badgers in an area of West Somerset

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The second licence for a pilot cull of badgers has been issued in a bid to tackle tuberculosis in cattle.

Government agency Natural England issued the four-year permit for an area of West Somerset allowing the "control" of the nocturnal animal to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB).

For six-week periods each year, licensees will be able to kill around three-quarters of badgers in an area covering about 250sq km (97sq miles), which is around 70 per cent of the West Somerset pilot area.

Natural England said: "Under the terms of the licence, and in accordance with the criteria specified in the bTB control policy, licensees will be authorised to reduce badger populations in the pilot area by at least 70 per cent and maximum numbers will be specified to prevent the risk of local extinction."

There is currently no oral vaccine available for badgers, and no vaccine for cattle.

The move is likely to anger wildlife campaigners and opponents, who believe culls do not have a significant effect on tackling the disease in livestock.

Natural England said it issued the licence because it was satisfied the application met the criteria set out in the government's bTB policy guidance, which specifies how culls can be carried out.

The advisory body said culls can only start once they have confirmed the dates, those authorised to carry out the killings, that the necessary funds are in place, and the number of badgers that will be subject to control operations.

The confirmations are expected to be finished within the next few weeks, it said.

No control operations can be carried out during specified close seasons, during which no controlled shooting can take place between February 1 and May 31, no caged trapping between December 1 and May 31, and no cage-trapping and vaccination between December 1 and April 30.

The application for the licence was made by a specially-formed company representing farming and land management interests.

The first full licence was issued for an area of Gloucestershire.

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  • E_Badger  |  October 11 2012, 1:41PM

    Let us correct a few misdirections posing as facts in this article... (1) 70% of badgers - once an infected badger is identified (although how as no post-shooting examination is to be performed) because badgers live in family groups the whole sett is deemed infected. This assumption means that all the occupants of a sett will be destroyed - this *will* lead to local extinctions. The 30% of badgers left behind will be the 30% that have managed to get away, no doubt to never return to their home sett, crossing field boundaries and carrying whatever potential and assumed contagion with them - this is called peturbation. (2) There is no cattle vaccine - there is a cattle vaccine available, it is under UK trial in South Africa with an effacacy of between 40-50% in wild animal populations the vaccine effecacy is expected to much greater in more placid less stressed domesticated herd animals. Only the EU is blocking the use of this vaccine for UK cattle because they state there is no test capable of distinguishing a bTB infected cow and one that has been vaccinated. Recent British trials of a 'diva' test have proven that it is possible to make this distinction. However, a change of EU law is still required, without which farmers are unable to export animals and produce. An oral vaccine for badgers is in development; however, an injectable vaccine does exist and is currently being administered in Wales via cage tap and release (and to lesser extent in Ireland) and also in the Gloucestershire culling zone and other areas of the country. (3) DEFRA and the NFU and farmers supporting the cull have based their entire argument on badger to cow transmission, even though bTB is a bovine infection and cow to cow transmission is much more likely via herding, milking etc. This flies in the face of the previous 10-year Krebbs study, which identified that removing badgers from the region does NOT stop the spread of bTB, because it is also hosted by other wildlife species. Better biosecurity can and does prevent infection of bTB, as does proper cattle husbandry and management when transporting and displaying at market. The current number of cattled identified as having to be destroyed due to bTB infection annually is 0.5% of the national beef/dairy herd. For this they want to remove 70% of badgers first from the two culling zones over the next four years and then expand the policy to the rest of England. When was the last time you saw a badger? Badgers do not need to be culled. There are alternatives. You can register with a pettition set up by Brian May agains the cull via www. teambadger .org This petition current has sufficient registrants to force discussion in the Housing of Commons however it requires an MP to pick up the hot potato and run with it. This can be achieved by making the number of registrants against the badger cull even greater (currently standing at 151,000). Help stop this nonsense and sign-up against the cull... http://tinyurl.com/8rq9vck

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