Pic: The Independent
Brian May has launched a badger vaccination funding appeal to bolster support for alternatives to the cull.
The Queen guitarist hopes to recruit donors and volunteers for a drive to prove that vaccines are a viable alternative and persuade farmers to adopt the method. He hopes to tap into public disquiet about the cull which saw more than 300,000 sign his Downing Street website petition urging a halt.
More than £200,000 has already been pledged by the guitarist and sponsors such as the Lush cosmetics, and the band Hawkwind –who played a charity concert in aid of animal charities last month – have pledged £10,000.
The aim is to generate enough financial backing and volunteers for large-scale five-year programmes across five of the areas worst hit by TB, which are Somerset and Gloucestershire, where pilot culls have been taking place, as well as Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
Vaccination costs around £120 per badger, the Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative (BACVI) says, with costs reducing as more volunteers are found.
One of the criticisms that has been levelled at those of us who have been trying to save badgers for the last three years is that ‘something has to be done and you are advocating nothing’,” said May.
“Well we are advocating something very, very positive. It seems that what is being done at the moment is actually making things worse. Vaccination is, in the end, the only way of eradicating the disease. We hope all those people genuinely in search of a solution will put aside their differences to support BACVI.”
Great news that the badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough badgers to meet their greatly reduced targets.
The collapse of the trial means that the controversial cull is to end three weeks earlier than planned. Also, according to a document seen by the BBC, the licence will be revoked early by Natural England (NE).
The NE document says: “It is recommended that the daily removal rate of badgers is monitored closely and if the rate falls below projections (such that a significant reduction in badger numbers may not be achieved) then we should consider terminating culling operations (by revoking the licence) as in this scenario there is unlikely to be a net benefit from continued culling.”
The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds and the one in Gloucestershire was tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.
However, just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension. A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, had wanted to roll out the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an independent panel of experts, which will judge whether the culls have been effective, safe and humane.
Mark Jones, Executive Director of Humane Society International-UK said: “I am much relieved the government’s badger cull fiasco is finally over, for the time being at least. We hope the government will now do the decent thing and admit that killing badgers to control TB in cattle is a ludicrous and inhumane idea.”
Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, said a protest against the cull in Bristol today would now turn into a celebration. “We’ve already learned lessons about culling – that it doesn’t work,” he said. “We know that there is another way – an improved cattle management system, in conjunction with volunteer-led badger vaccination.”
HARES ON THE HILL
The Western Morning News reports that shooters involved in the badger cull in Somerset are failing to kill anything like the numbers of badgers required to fulfil their quotas and DEFRA is in denial.
Mark Jones, veterinarian and Executive Director of Humane Society International/UK gave the following reaction: “The vast majority of shooting appears to be taking place without any monitoring whatsoever, only a fraction of badger carcasses are being collected for examination, the extreme suffering of wounded badgers who will die slowly underground is unmeasurable and nobody outside of DEFRA’s internal team has been allowed to examine or question its methods. With this level of unjustified animal suffering, DEFRA must not be allowed to stick two fingers up at transparency and get away with it.”
Read the full article here
Mark Avery’s blog on this subject is worth reading.
A new puppy and loads of work are keeping me from the…
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The badger cull is now under way in England despite protests. About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Farmers and the Government say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective. They want the emphasis to be on vaccines and tighter on-farm and cattle movement measures. The RSPCA said it was “saddened”, while anti-cull campaigners turned out in large numbers at the pilot sites to protest against what they call “inhumane” action. It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “The Government’s divisive badger cull will cost more than it saves and will spread bovine TB in the short-term as badgers are disturbed by shooting.
“We need a science-led policy to manage cattle movements better and a vaccine to tackle TB in cattle. Ministers should listen to the scientists and drop this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”
About 2,000 people held a rally in London yesterday as licences to cull badgers came into force in two areas.
Up to 5,094 badgers can now be culled in west Somerset and west Gloucestershire. Groups of farmers in the two pilot zones have been given licences to conduct culls using trained marksmen to shoot the animals.
The rally was led by ex-Queen guitarist, Brian May, who delivered a near-250,000 signature petition to Downing Street calling for the cull to be scrapped. He said: “The great bit of new information is it has now been demonstrated that the cull cannot make economic sense. It will lose the taxpayer money rather than save it.
“That was really the last shred of reason that you could give for this cull going ahead. It is a very good time for Mr Cameron to reconsider and withdraw from this monstrous cull, in the public interest.”
Posted in Badgers, Nature, Wildlife
Tagged animal welfare, badgers, Brian May, campaigns, conservation, countryside, David Cameron, Parliament, petitions
Dear Kitty. Some blog
This video from Britain says about itself:
Watch this cute badger cub run round in circles with excitement as it sets off for an evening outing.
From Wildlife Extra, about Britain:
Defra statistics show bTB soared after cattle imports
A case of foot in mouth for Defra as their own evidence reveals true cause of bTB outbreak
May 2013. Statistics released by Defra in a bid to explain why the badger cull must go ahead have, in fact, revealed the true cause of the bTB outbreak that they are trying to stop, say Care for the Wild.
bTB soared after Foot and Mouth controls relaxed
Figures show that incidences of bTB soared in 2000/2001, in certain areas. This correlates almost exactly with the relaxation of movement controls after the Foot and Mouth epidemic, which saw large numbers of herds restocked from the UK and across Europe.
Influx of untested…
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Drivers are being asked to take special care on rural roads because the breeding season is fast approaching and the young start to leave their families. Experts estimate that vehicles kill 50,000 of the animals each year, particularly when they emerge at night in search of food.
The Badger Trust said: “Traffic is the number one threat and new roads can divide territories and result in more deaths as badgers continue along their traditional routes. Motorists need to be particularly careful and go around corners ready to brake. If a vehicle is coming the other way you can see its headlights,
but animals don’t have headlights.”
The Highways Agency now considers badger safety when building new roads. As part of the £175m upgrade of the main route between England and Scotland, badger-proof fencing and tunnels are being created to give wildlife a safe route under the motorway.
A dozen such “badger mitigation” schemes are being developed around the country and will join the 250 badger tunnels and some 200km of fencing already along some of Britain’s roads. The proposed high-speed rail line form London to Leeds will also feature these badger-safe accessories.
But the Badger Trust says more needs to be done and is calling for a co-ordinated policy and greater funding to protect the animals from traffic.