Why a Badger Cull in Dorset?

Standard

11866351_827870717320694_8851678859065688812_n

The government’s own statistics prove that cattle measures are working in Dorset.

From 2012 – 2014 the number of Dorset cattle slaughtered due to bTB fell by 37.25%.

The NFU are claiming that bTB in Dorset has risen more than anywhere else in the country. Where do they get this from? Is it their ‘anecdotal evidence’ again? It’s certainly not backed by Government stats.

Please, if you care about our badgers, write to your MP and contact Natural England TODAY. Ask them why they want to roll out a cull which has proved to be cruel, costly, unpopular and just doesn’t work!

Write to:
Bovine TB Licensing Unit,
Natural England, BM 6283,
London, WC1N 3XX
Tel: 0300 060 0550 – lines are open during office hours
Email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Find your Dorset Member of Parliament at:
www.dorsetforyou.com/384524

Cligg’s Clangers – Lesley Docksey reviews the threat from the proposed roll out of the badger cull to Dorset

Standard

Dorset’s wildlife campaigners are working flat out to prepare for a possible badger cull – leafleting and informing the public, fundraising, sett mapping, buying necessary equipment to help them conduct wounded badger patrols in the dark and all the rest. A huge exercise in logistics which they hope will not be needed.

A few days ago the NFU announced it had formally requested Natural England for licences to cull badgers in Dorset. This is supposedly to control bovine TB. But are Natural England, Defra, the media and Dorset’s pro-culling farmers taking any notice of the figures that demonstrate how unnecessary a cull would be? No.

Let’s be clear, bovine TB is a problem, and for various reasons has increased in our herds since it was almost eradicated in the 1960s. But it infects maybe 0.4 percent of cattle in the United Kingdom. Many more cattle are needlessly slaughtered because of lameness, mastitis and other problems, a result of the demands we make on the animals.

The NFU has long been a champion of culling badgers. Though they state that ‘dealing with the problem in wildlife’ is just one of the many ‘tools in the box’ being used to control bTB, they don’t seem too keen on using those controls. As we shall see.

In 2012 Dorset farmer Paul Gould became chair of the Dorset branch of the NFU. He immediately called for a badger cull, since when there has been a constant stream of ‘news’ releases from him in the local media. This became manic when his own herd fell victim to bTB in April 2014. The NFU Chair Meurig Raymond visited his farm and between them they sold the story that only the badgers must have been the source of the disease.

But were badgers the source? Jay Tiernan and Stop the Cull did some research. They found that:

  • Gould’s herd had tested free 6 months later
  • That a neighbouring farm had had a bTB breakdown a few months before
  • That the neighbour’s cattle used fields adjacent to Gould’s fields. Both herds could have had nose-to-nose contact.
  • Both farms are now clear of bTB without culling badgers.

Naturally, none of this was mentioned by the NFU. Equally naturally, Mr Gould will be in charge of any badger cull that takes place.

Gould’s successor at Dorset NFU, Trevor Cligg, is just as keen for a cull, and has carried on the disinformation campaign to persuade Dorset how necessary a badger cull is. Considering how easy it is to disprove what he says, it is remarkable that he has been allowed to get away with such outrageous statements. For example:

In May this year, at an Environment & Wildlife general election hustings, he claimed that bovine TB was ‘rife’ in Dorset. In July on Radio Solent he said that “there are significant levels of TB in Dorset’s badgers.” No studies have been done that support this. Dorset’s badger vaccinators confirm they have never seen any diseased badgers, and that countrywide there has only been one incident of vaccinators calling out a vet – for a badger with a broken leg,

In August he claimed that “cases of TB have increased more in Dorset than any other part of the country in the last three years.” When challenged on this he said he was “using Animal and Plant Health Agency statistics”. But these are the figures which form Defra’s bTB statistics, updated every month. And what do they say?

In 2014 a total of 31,733 TB-infected cattle were slaughtered in the UK. Dorset contributed all of 744 to that number, a tiny 2.3 percent. The total slaughtered in the Western Region was 17,017. Dorset’s share was 4.37 percent. How ‘rife’ is that?

Compared to this, the slaughter rates for Somerset were 1,576; for Gloucester 1,153; for Devon 5,861; and Cornwall 2,875.

As annual testing is now the norm for the Western region, the number of bTB tests on Dorset cattle has almost doubled since 2008. Between January 2012 and December 2014, this has resulted in:

new incidents of bTB having dropped by 12 percent
herds under restriction having dropped by 13 percent
and the number of TB-infected cattle slaughtered dropped by 37.25 percent

All of this has been achieved without culling badgers. One should also point out that for almost all the Western Region counties, the slaughter rate has dropped over the same period, although in Somerset there are sight signs of an increase because of perturbation of the badger population, due to – badger culling!

These figures are totally at odds with what Trevor Cligg and the NFU have been claiming, and they prove that there is no justification for a badger cull in Dorset (or, I would add, anywhere else).

And what of all the other measures that can reduce bTB, like annual testing, strict bio-security on farms and markets, and strict cattle movement controls? How good are Paul Gould and Trevor Cligg at implementing the bio-security measures as advised by Defra? These would include fencing off badger setts, preventing wildlife access to farm buildings, and double-fencing fields to prevent physical contact between cattle.

Sarah King from Badger Guardians pointed to standards of bio-security on Paul Gould’s farm. “Mr Gould said on TV he’d done everything possible to keep badgers away from his cows. But this isn’t correct. Some of his cattle sheds are open to any wildlife which wants to wander in and badger setts on his farm haven’t been fenced off. He’s ignoring Defra’s key recommendations for minimising contact between badgers and cattle.”

And her colleague Andy Hamilton confirmed cattle belonging to Gould’s neighbour were still using fields next to Gould’s, and that no double fencing had been installed. He added that he had walked past Trevor Cligg’s farm just over a month ago. “No attempt had been made to prevent wildlife entering calf pens, clearly visible from the public road. Since neither past nor present Dorset NFU Chairmen has adopted Defra’s simplest recommendations it suggests they don’t believe badgers spread TB.”

This article is by Lesley Docksey from Brian Mays’ Save Me www.save-me.org.uk (with thanks to Jay Tiernan and Andy Hamilton)

Lesley Docksey © 09/08/15

Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare speak out on the Government statistics on bovine TB in Dorset

Standard

3791291

Karin Snellock, a spokesman for Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, was recently quoted in an article entitled ‘Government statistics on bovine TB in Dorset split opinion’ which was published in the Dorset Echo on 29th May 2015.

The article states how anti badger cull campaigners, including DBBW, claim the decreasing number of cattle slaughtered in Dorset due to bovine TB indicates badger culling remains unnecessary. This is a very important statement as Dorset is rumoured to be next on the list to implement a badger cull, following on from pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Figures released by the Government show the number of cattle slaughtered in the county fell by more than 30 per cent in a two-year period.

Karin says; “We feel the public are being led to believe the disease is on the increase, whereas in fact the complete opposite is true.

“This figure is taken from the Government’s own statistics. It shows that the current annual testing regime, stricter controls on cattle movement and increase bio-security measures are already making enormous inroads into combating the disease.

“As the threat of a badger cull reaching Dorset becomes more imminent, local wildlife groups are determined to ensure that the relevant facts and figures are not swept aside in the name of political expediency.”

Click here to read the full article >>

Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Cerne Abbas Giant gets a furry badger friend for April Fool’s Day

Standard

Cerne Giant with Badger small

The Dorset Echo has today reported that the Cerne Abbas Giant has been “gifted with a furry friend for April Fool’s Day, thanks to a Dorset badger group.”

Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare have pulled the prank to highlight that there is an ulterior message behind it…

A spokesman for Dorset’s Endangered Badgers Action group, Barbara Grey, said that this act had been carried out to remind people that the threat to badgers was real and imminent.

Fears over the culls have risen after environment secretary Liz Truss announced at the NFU conference that the controversial culls would continue if Conservatives win the General Election.

Barbara said: “If the Tories win the election they plan to roll out the cull to Dorset this year.This means that thousands of badgers will be killed for no good reason at all. Scientific evidence shows that culling is expensive, inhumane and above all ineffective. It does nothing to reduce the incidence of bovine TB in cattle.

“The Dorset Badger Vaccination group can provide a much more viable alternative, with each animal vaccinated costing only £100, compared with an estimated £5,200 each for culling.

“That figure may sound like a joke, but it is absolutely true, and the Tories plan to pay for it out of public money in other words, our taxes.”

Justice for Nid! Hunt sabs in protest at the races

Standard

In August last year, during a ‘cubbing’ meet held by the Blackmore & Sparkford Vale Hunt, their huntsman Mark Doggrell seriously injured a female hunt saboteur by running her over with his horse. Nid, as she is known in the sabbing community, was left with seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a damaged shoulder.

The incident was filmed by the sabs, and Doggrell arrested and charged. Both the ‘sabs’ and the police felt they had a good case. The Crown Prosecution Service thought otherwise. Last month they refused to prosecute on ‘insufficient evidence’. The Hunt Saboteur Association immediately made the video public. People were outraged at what they saw – the brutality of the attack, and the fact that Doggrell rode on without a glance over his shoulder at the unconscious body on the ground.

A petition circulated, demanding the CPS reconsider. Nid herself wrote to the CPS, asking them to review the case – which they are now doing. What else can they do, when people have seen for themselves what happened? The sabs and their many supporters are keeping up the pressure. On Sunday March 8 they held a peaceful protest at the big money-raising event of the year for the Hunt – the annual point-to-point race meeting.

In their wish to see justice for Nid, sabs had come from far and wide, the assault on her by Doggrell having stirred up huge anger among anti-hunting people. Hunting has often been seen, by those who support it, as a ‘class issue’ on the part of those who don’t – townies against the countryman. But what kind of ‘class’ do the hunt followers belong to; for it is they who are mostly responsible for the violence (those on the horses are more notable for their arrogance than hands-on thuggery).

They follow the hunt on their quad bikes, racing across fields and farmers’ crops and, where horses can jump the hedges, the followers pull gates off hinges and tear down fences to gain access for their bikes. They are the thugs who take pleasure in beating up anti-hunt people and, as happened at one recent meet, trashing a sab Land Rover and its equipment, before being pursued by the police helicopter.

And they take children with them. Speaking to a sab the day after the protest, I was told how upsetting it is to see the terror-stricken faces of the children as the quad bikes speed, bump and skid through the mud. How many unreported accidents are there, and what do they learn, these kids? That life is brutal and full of fear, and that the only way to beat the fear is to bully and threaten others.

The incident of the trashed Land Rover started with a man leaping off his quad bike, going to the Land Rover, breaking the driver’s window by hitting it with his elbow before punching the driver in the face. Then he was helped by other hunt followers joining in the attack. And he had, as a passenger on the back of his quad bike, and sitting there watching all this violence, a 7-8 year-old child.

The sabs had generously been given a parking area just outside the racecourse. Hunt security men tried to block them from entering this site until the police intervened. But – every car carrying protestors was filmed by the pro-hunt side. This is common practice (it happened during the badger culls too), and many sabs have been targeted at their homes, traced by their vehicle numbers.

With hundreds of vehicles full of race-goers expected and a single track between fields the only route to the course, some protestors lined the track with their placards, while many of the sabs stood across it, blocking the long queues of cars and horse boxes. As the police were allowing this, drivers had to be patient. The pro-hunt lads were not. One protester had his banner bashed aside with a stick. The same stick was then used on another (female) protestor’s legs.

There was a little violence, and one female sab was temporarily arrested while trying to prevent more cars from entering the racecourse. She was bodily thrown down into the mud several times by Hunt security men but kept getting up and trying again. It was perhaps not the best thing to do at what was meant to be a peaceful protest, but she was shaking with both fear and anger, and the anger kept her going.

It was clear the police, who succeeded in keeping the two sides apart, thought any trouble was going to come from the hunt followers. Any orders seemed to be directed at them, rather than the sabs.

One hunt follower, asked if he had seen the film, implied it had been Photoshopped, while some were ignorant of what the film showed. Yet another, escorting two protestors onto the course so they could buy some coffee (the Hunt apparently thought they would upset the horses), felt the sabs shouldn’t be asking for Mark Doggrell to be sacked because “he’s a good family man.” Such as his father, who has been banned from riding with the B&SV Hunt because of his behaviour.

The heavy brigade hung around until the sabs had left – all but two women and myself talking to a police officer. Then over 15 of them crowded round us, pressing closer and closer in a tight circle – until the very nice man in charge of arranging the security for the Hunt intervened and moved them on. But it was disturbing to see that several of them were in their very early teens, trying to emulate their elders and seeking looks of approval from them. Presumably they were learning how to grow up into ‘good family men’ like Mark Doggrell. So brave they are, these bully boys who kill foxes.

11/03/15 © Lesley Docksey

(First published by the Morning Star)

Make your own Mini Moo Daisy Cow to show that cows deserve happy homes in fields, not in factories

Standard

Originally posted on The Compassion Collective:

daisy-1

It has been on our wishlist for a few years since we launched Compassionate Dorset, and inspired by The BUAV’s ‘Make your own Buddy the Beagle’ that my super talented partner, Compassion Collective artist Stu Jones recently created, I am very excited to launch The Compassion Collective’s very first ‘Make-and-Do’ animal – Daisy the Cow – just in time to let her out to pasture this Spring…

Make your own Daisy Cow!

Daisy (who also features in our logo) is a beautiful black and white girl Fresian cow and she says: “Moo! Can you put me together and give me a loving home?”

You can download your own Make-and-Do Daisy Cow paper craft animal to print out at home, or you can pre-order a full-colour printed copy to be posted to you (we’ll be printing and posting them this or next week!).

It only takes between 10 to 20 minutes to make using scissors and glue…

View original 658 more words