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Badger cull “complete failure” says St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert

By CGGayle  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

StephenGilbert

Stephen Gilbert brands trial badger culls a "complete failure"

Comments (21)

A Cornwall MP is calling for the government to pursue vaccination of badgers and cattle against bovine tuberculosis after branding trial badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire as “a complete failure”.

Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said he would not support any future culls and is calling for a mass vaccination scheme to be carried out instead.

“Bovine TB is a huge problem for our farmers and costs the tax payer millions every year,” he said.

“But there is a balance to be struck – no one wants to see the needless destruction of animals or habitats either.”

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The pilot culls have been criticised after marksmen failed to meet the government’s target of removing 70 per cent of the badger population in the designated areas.

And last week it was revealed the cost of policing the culls totalled £2.6 million, which equates to approximately £1,300 for each badger killed.

“The badger cull pilots showed that there would be huge difficulties in culling the required numbers to drive down Bovine TB and, in some cases, they missed the targets by so much it would probably drive up rates instead,” Mr Gilbert continued.

“I will therefore not support any future culling of badgers; instead, we need to focus on developing and administering better, cheaper vaccines to tackle the Bovine TB crisis; vaccination of badgers and cattle is now the only way forward.”

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21 comments

  • Charlespk  |  January 25 2014, 5:24PM

    Very unfortunately neither Stephen Gilbert or The Badger Welfare Association has a proper upstanding of these bacteria, and still believe if a badger looks healthy, it won't be spreading the disease. Whilst gassing rather than shooting would have been a far preferable method, their ideas are unlikely to help. . A return to clean ring culling of badgers, when any reactors have been dealt with; then using further reactor cattle as the 'canaries', is the only logical way of overcoming this problem. An appliable wildlife vaccine is nowhere on the horizon and may never happen. THE REASON WHY. Apart from obviously clinically sick badger, you can ONLY detect M.bovis at post mortem. The prevalence and distribution of Mycobacterium bovis infection in European badgers (Meles meles) as determined by enhanced post mortem examination and bacteriological culture. School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, College of Life Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. denise.murphy@ucd.ie Authors: Murphy D, Gormley E, Costello E, O'Meara D, Corner LA The accurate diagnosis of Mycobacterium bovis infection in badgers is key to understanding the epidemiology of tuberculosis in this species and has significant implications for devising strategies to limit spread of the disease. In this study, badgers (n=215) in the Republic of Ireland were examined at post mortem and tissues were collected from a range of anatomical locations and pooled into groups for bacterial culture of M. bovis. By assessing confirmed gross visible lesions (VL) alone, infection was detected in 12.1% of badgers. However, by including the results of all culture positive pooled samples, the overall infection prevalence increased significantly to 36.3%. Two-thirds (66.7%) of infected animals had no visible lesions (NVL). While the thoracic cavity (lungs and pulmonary lymph nodes) was found to be the most common site of infection, in a proportion of animals infection was absent from the lungs and draining lymph nodes and was confined to the lymph nodes of the carcase or the head. This may indicate an early extrapulmonary dissemination of infection or alternatively, in the case of the head lymph nodes, a secondary pathogenic pathway involving the lymphoid tissues of the upper respiratory tract (URT). http://tinyurl.com/axrhms5 (open in a new window)

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  • 2ladybugs  |  January 23 2014, 7:58PM

    The number of badger setts in England has more than doubled in the last 25 years, a new report has claimed, fuelling concerns over the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Researchers believe the number of badger groups has risen by about 2.6 per cent each year for a quarter of a century. There are now an estimated 71,600 badger groups in England and Wales, up by 27,000 to 40,000 since the mid 1980s with the biggest change seen in England. The number of badger setts has increased by 103 per cent in England while in Wales it has remained fairly constant, the team found. Research has shown that in hotspot areas up to one-third of badgers could be infected which is why controlling the reservoir of disease in wildlife has to be a crucial part of any strategy to control and eradicate TB in this country."

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  • Jake_Blake  |  January 23 2014, 7:43PM

    @ groundnut, I suggest you re-read my posts in respects to badger culling and cattle testing, you will find the answers there. As for the vaccination, this was on triple pre-screened badgers. So only the clean ones were injected. So people need to be careful with how they use the 74% figure. Vaccination will not provide anywhere near this level of protection over the entire population. If you can only catch 70% of the population, with a vaccination that's 74% effective on around 70% of those badgers caught then you're looking at around 36% protection in the first year, not bad, but it will need to be much higher than this to build the all important herd immunity. And that is the whole crux of the vaccination argument and to date it remains unknown. Therefore to describe vaccination as a solution has no foundation in science. You have failed to answer my question, in where is the line drawn to say that badger vaccination has failed? Just to note, the vaccination trails were not trials in that respect, they were to be used for training people to vaccinate, not actually testing the vaccine itself. So one needs to be careful when it comes to politics. Even after Labour's campaigning and much complaining, they're not actually committing themselves to deployment of vaccination in the HRAs. With their latest statements about possibly allowing culling to take place it seems the political landscape is changing and finally waking up to the necessity of culling.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  January 23 2014, 12:33PM

    grrrr, "over, at least" in the same sentence......I don't think so!!!!!

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  • 2ladybugs  |  January 23 2014, 12:01PM

    With regards to your summary......I would have expected the numbers of cases to have fallen in cattle over, at least in the past two years, owing to the bad winters we have had. Cattle would have been kept indoors much later in the year therefore not coming into contact with badger latrines. The wet weather/floods would also have affected badgers, in that their latrines would have been washed away, almost as soon as they had used them and any spraying would definitely have been diluted. Perturbation is almost certainly have taken place by badgers, trying to get to dry ground for new homes. Some badger cubs would have drowned. The good sunny weather will also have killed much of the bacterium left by badgers, or any other wildlife carrying bTB.

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  • barney2  |  January 23 2014, 11:42AM

    2Ladybugs. I did point out that the one in 400 comment was cherry picked information. The favourite weapon of some. Yes I agree that you cannot tell by looking at a badger whether or not it has TB unless it is in the advance stages of the disease but it cannot be the case that one day they have the disease and look healthy and the next day they are in the advance stages and die in there sets. Their has to be a period in between where they are still active but have visible signs. There have been no reports of badgers in this condition found. You would think that of the thousands of badgers killed and vaccinated some would have been found in this condition but none have been reported they all seem to be very healthy. Perhaps there own immune system is taking care of them. Numbers are coming down and it is likely that the reason for that is the changes force on farmer after the 2011 EC report. Farm based methods to control the disease has worked before and can again and are working elsewhere.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  January 23 2014, 10:27AM

    Whoops, sorry Barney, my comments about the Welsh programme was in reply to another poster and I have just copied my reply to them :(

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  • 2ladybugs  |  January 23 2014, 10:22AM

    About one in seven badgers killed on the roads was suffering from TB, according to a new survey. The findings come from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Badger Road Traffic Accident Survey covering the years 2002 to 2004 and are based on TB tests carried out on roadkill badgers collected from seven counties, including Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. The data collected can be used to estimate prevalence at county level. In general, the prevalence of infection in badgers was higher in the northern group of counties involved (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire) than those in the southern group (Cornwall, Devon and Dorset). However, Defra said insufficient badgers were collected through the RTA survey to allow parish level prevalence estimates to be made. By Birmingham Post TB tests on dead badgers shock 4 Aug 2005 This paints a different picture, than the 1 in 400 over 20 year scenario!!!!!!!! NONE of the welsh badgers were tested for bTB before OR after being vaccinated. You can NOT tell whether a badger has bTB just by looking at them. Put into perspective The 1 in 400 (over 20 years ) comes from this report:- https://http://tinyurl.com/kcn27dv The 1 in 7 (over 2 years ) comes from this report :- http://tinyurl.com/lte3u56 4 Aug 2005 -

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  • barney2  |  January 23 2014, 12:26AM

    We do not know how many badgers are infected with Btb because the Government does not want us to know, wonder why that is. They refused to carry out autopsy's on the killed badgers and also refused to allow any outside organisation to carry out autopsy's even if it was free of charge. Thousands of badgers have either been killed or vaccinated but they have been no reports of any being found in the advanced stages of the disease, wonder why that is, but ( my turn to cherry pick ) Durham University did find one case out of the 400 road kill badgers they carried out autopsy's on. Incidences of the disease are dropping faster in NI without killing badgers than in the ROI where they have been killing badgers for years. In 2011 after a damning report by the EC criticising hygiene etc on British farms and in markets and threats to withdraw money Defra took action and force some changes on farmers and in the last 2 years numbers of infected animals have dropped by about 11%, they were not killing badgers so could it be possible that the reduction is due the changes Defra forced on farmers. Defra have just announced that due to an IT problem the reduction may be a lot more than 11%. The EU will not allow any of there money to be spent on culling but will provide money for the vaccination programme in Wales.

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  • groundnut  |  January 22 2014, 11:07PM

    Jake Blake you need to be more up to date than RBCT, add it if you like but RBCT is also saying Culling is NOT an effective way forward to the long term eradication of TB. That report has been superseded /Added to By ISG and PlOS ONE. ALL three clearly indicating that culling is not an effective long term solution to BTB. In addition the current testing methods of Cattle regularly will fail to detect infected cattle, which will continue within an existing herd as a BTB risk. But this cull with the amount of cage trapping that was carried out, could have vaccinated the Badgers. Instead it spread perturbation. Culled in large areas where no Cattle were present and failed to test any badgers for BTB. So how scientific is that. How many Badgers were infected? Results from the largest field trial to date (published in 2010) showed a 73.8% reduction in positive blood tests in badgers. The knock-on impact on disease levels in cattle, however, is not yet proven. Unfortunately, funding was cut for a large Badger Vaccine Deployment Project (reducing it from six projects to one). That FUNDING WAS cut by this CON/Dem govt. Unlike culling, vaccination can't make bTB worse. It does not cause perturbation (the spread of the disease as new badgers move into territories vacated by culled badgers) as it leaves their social structure intact." Vaccination can't cure an infected Badger, But neither can Vaccination cure measles, or an infected cow. But it is certain that the movement against this style of Politics is growing. Rollout any more of the same and that opposition grows. That is not in any way a threat. It is a fact Paterson has played this very badly and danced to the wrong tune. Even this evening in the Farmers Guardian he is under pressure to get a move on. NOT like OP – has he hit a Political stumbling block perhaps.? Let us all hope so.

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