Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare had a very successful Valentines Day Public Outreach Event in Weymouth on Saturday 14th February, where a few of our volunteers asked locals to ‘HAVE A HEART FOR BADGERS’, and were spreading the ‘vaccinate not exterminate’ message.
We handed out badger leaflets, packets of love hearts and ‘I Love Badgers’ stickers!
Most people were very supportive and several recounted stories of how they fed the badgers in their gardens on peanut butter sandwiches.
A heartfelt thanks to Animal Aid for their support with this event.
A small group from DBBW also presented West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin with a special Valentines’ Day Card, and we are very pleased to see it featured in the Dorset Echo this week.
The message inside read:
Badgers are beautiful in their striking black and white
Against their cull in Dorset all decent folk should fight
Vaccination is THE way to fight TB in cattle
Oliver, will you pledge to join us in our battle?
Oliver Letwin told us that he did think vaccination was the way forward if it works. And yet he has officially commented; “I believe we should use every effort we can to control this disease and while we don’t yet have an alternative we should try to get the culls to work.”
What about Wales Oliver, we ask? What about cattle movement measures, improved bio-security on farms, testing and developing an effective cattle vaccination?
We say, Oliver you’re not listening to the scientists – culling is cruel, costly and unpopular, but most of all it doesn’t work!
Please send your letters and comments to the Dorset Echo at firstname.lastname@example.org or read the full article and comment online here.
One year on and it’s time to get back into the field to stop the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Since Somerset is closest to Dorset, we will be focusing our support there. Last year car-loads of supporters from Dorset were out in the zone, and this year we want to make sure even more people are involved.
For those wanting to walk the footpaths then the Somerset Badger Patrol is for you. You can follow them and get updates on Facebook or via their website. They meet at a central location every night and walk on public rights of way in large visible groups throughout the cull zone.
Dorset Hunt Sabs will also be in the zone every night and need as many people in the field as possible. The simple fact is that if people are in the immediate vicinity of shooters, then the shooters MUST pack up and move on. This is truly lifesaving work, so if you feel you are able to help please contact them. They will have experienced people who know the area leading small covert groups. They also have much of the equipment needed but are in need of support to get one essential bit of kit – a thermal imager, which you can help fund here.
Although Dorset has been spared the cull for now, we cannot let our guard down, a cull could be sprung on us at any time, since all the formalities have already been done and the NFU propaganda machine is working in overdrive pushing for a cull in Dorset. One of the things that will make a cull less likely is to have a strong vaccination programme running in the county, which is why we strongly support the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, who are doing incredible work. Please support them so that in the coming months they can make sure more of Dorset’s badgers are protected from bTB and the cull.
However you can help, now is the time to get active and involved. Please show your support and let’s make sure this year’s culls are even more pointless than last and that we put an end to this whole sorry mess once and for all.
To all the performers and people who gave their time and energy to make BROCKSTOCK happen, thank you! We raised hundreds to help protect badgers in Dorset and beyond. Please check out and support all these badger-friendly musicians.
Andrea Kenny (singer from The Brandy Thieves)
The High Cs
and of course… Thanks to everyone who came to the show and all those who have supported us through our first year. We will keep fighting for the badgers and hope you will join us.
We are celebrating our first anniversary with a special concert called BROCKSTOCK at the Electric Palace in Bridport on Saturday 21 June. Founded in June 2013, Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare are returning to the town where we held our first ever public event. We’re celebrating a year which has seen the proposed cull of badgers in Dorset abandoned and the rollout of a project which enables farmers and landowners to have the badgers on their land vaccinated against TB rather than culled, at a fraction of the cost of a commercial operation.
Saturday’s stellar line-up boasts a wealth of local talent, with headliners, Worry Dolls, from Bournemouth supported by local favourites Sketchy Dog, Andrea Kelly, Ian Sedwell, The Diluted and The High Cs. The doors open at 7pm with the first act on at 7:30 and the entertainment running until midnight. Tickets, available on the door, are £10 each and all of the money raised will go to protect badgers in Dorset and beyond. There will also be free acoustic performances in the foyer from 1-6pm, along with stalls and a raffle.
It’s been a tremendous year for us. We feared the worst at this time last year, when Owen Patterson was talking about the cull being rolled out to 10 more counties in 2014, with Dorset being top of the list. As it happened, the trial culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire were a disaster, and the independent expert panel labelled them “inhumane” and “ineffective”. We are now focusing on supporting our neighbours in Somerset, who are facing a cull again this year, and trying to ensure as many of Dorset’s badgers are vaccinated as possible.
They gathered in Borough Gardens, first just a few, then dozens and then hundreds, all with one purpose and one voice: to stop the badger cull! The marchers filled the streets of Dorchester, the drums beat time, the town crier announced us and the Badger Trust’s Dominic Dyer explained why we were there. It was a wonderful sight and even better sound as the streets echoed with the refrain “Save Our Badgers, Stop The Cull!” After an hour on the streets we all returned to Borough Gardens for amazing food from Fairfoods and great music for Dorset bands The High C’s and Sketchy Dog. To all those who came and to all those who made it happen, thank you. Together we are an unstoppable force, and we’re only just getting started!
We are very excited to announce a march against the badger cull followed by a party in the park in Dorchester on Saturday 17 May, 12pm to 3pm, Borough Gardens.
First and foremost, this march is to support our friends in Somerset and Gloucestershire who face yet another tough Summer spent protecting badgers. We will be organising teams to go and support them during this incredibly stressful but crucial time. In Dorset we will be focusing on promoting badger vaccination and are pleased to have a speaker from the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, as well as other special guests.
The fact that the badger cull has not been rolled out to Dorset this year is a huge victory for everyone who has been fighting against this insane policy, so we felt celebrations were in order. After the march Fairfoods catering will be serving delicious veggie food and there will be live music from some of Dorset’s finest bands. Borough gardens is a lovely spot and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine.
We ask that everyone assemble in Borough Gardens (DT1 1RE – see map below for location and nearest car parks) at 12pm, ready to march through town at 12:30pm. We aim to be back in Borough Gardens for 1:30pm, where we will have food and music until 3pm.
Please help us spread the word by sharing this blog post and if you’re on Facebook please join and share the event page. You can also download a poster advertising this march, either in colour or b&w, as well as a double-sided A5 flyer. We also have professionally printed copies of these materials that we can send you to distribute in your area.
See you there!
Grassroots groups working on the ground to stop the badger cull have joined forces under the South West Alliance for Badgers (SWAB). Sharing skills, resources and information the alliance formed after news that the unscientific, inhumane and ineffective culls from last year will be continued in Somerset and Gloucestershire. News that Dorset will be spared for now is a huge relief for the county and Dorset campaigners have pledged their full support to groups in the cull zones.
A statement released today by South West Alliance for Badgers reads:
The evidence is in and couldn’t be clearer; killing badgers as a means to tackle bovine TB is ineffective and inhumane, yet the government is ignoring the science, the will of the public and that of parliament. It is clearly working to a political agenda rather than a practical or scientific one.
The cull has not only failed to provide the results claimed for it but has proved hugely more expensive to taxpayers and farmers than vaccinating badgers and potentially other alternative methods of controlling bTB in cattle. It has also caused huge divisions within the community and imposed enormous costs and operational problems for the police.
The government has consistently misrepresented the facts and the need for culling, concealing the information that UK herd infections were already decreasing prior to the pilot culls due to improved testing and cattle controls alone. Badgers have been virtually eradicated in some areas of the Republic of Ireland but this has proved no more effective in reducing cattle infections than in Northern Ireland where no badgers have been killed. However, results from Wales, where the new cattle controls have been combined with badger vaccination, have proved that this is by far the fastest, most effective and humane method of controlling bTB in cattle.
As groups concerned with animal welfare and wildlife conservation in the South West we cannot sit by and allow this pointless slaughter to continue. As with the ‘pilot’ culls last year, we will be back in the field saving as many badgers lives as we can, and we will be doing so with increased numbers, and increased determination.
In the meantime we will continue to support the many local and national badger vaccination schemes giving farmers, land-owners and councils a clear choice: either opt for unpopular, unscientific and ineffective killing, or choose a humane, scientifically proven, effective and cheaper route: vaccination of badgers.
This statement will be released by each of the member groups of SWAB and communicated to their members and is the first step in greater cooperation between the frontline grassroots groups in the South West.
South West Alliance for Badgers (SWAB) currently consists of:
Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare
Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting
Somerset Against the Cull
Following a leaked report from the Independent Panel of Experts (IEP) showing that trial badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset had been an abject failure, we are calling for the culls to be abandoned and released this statement:
It was clear months ago that the culls were failing to reach key targets set by the Coalition Government, despite repeated denials by the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, DEFRA and the NFU. Now the Independent Panel of Experts set up by the Government to review the results of the culls have confirmed everything we have been saying.
The IEP concluded that the culls fell far short of the target numbers of badgers killed, even after extending both culls beyond six weeks, yet Owen Paterson had hailed them as a success. Many leading scientists and wildlife experts believe the failure of the culls could actually worsen the spread of TB. The Panel also found that the culls were not humane. Owen Paterson, without waiting for the Panel to report, claimed months ago that they were. According to Natural England Compliance Monitors some badgers took five minutes or more to die in agony after being shot.
The scientific facts were manipulated to suit the policy. DEFRA has also now admitted that both badger populations and TB rates in cattle were grossly overstated. Badger numbers were falling, not ‘soaring out of control’, which is what the Environment Secretary claimed. The three rotten planks shoring up this ramshackle policy have therefore collapsed.
The cull policy has been shot full of more holes than the unfortunate badgers who needlessly died. It is clearly time to abandon this unjustified and unpopular slaughter and implement other measures which have been found effective elsewhere, such as in Wales where a programme of badger vaccination, tighter bio-security on farms and cattle movements has produced a far more positive result for farmers than the two culls in England did.
In Dorset farmers and land owners have a clear choice, either pay for costly, ineffective and enormously unpopular mass slaughter of badgers, or opt for much cheaper, scientifically proven and humane vaccination of badgers through the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project.
Supporters of Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, some dressed as badgers, delivered a giant Valentine’s Day card to the Dorchester offices of the National Farmers Union (NFU) urging them to “have a heart for badgers” on Valentines Day.
The NFU are lobbying for a mass cull of badgers, under the guise of preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Last year trial culls were undertaken in Somerset and Gloucestershire to ascertain if shooting free-running badgers was feasible and “humane”. At present the evidence points to the trials being a shambles, falling far short of their intended targets and causing significant harm to wildlife and local communities alike. Further more, a government-funded 10-year randomised badger culling trial produced clear evidence to show that badgers were not a significant vector for transmitting bTB to cattle and that improved cattle movement controls and biosecurity on farms was the key to managing the disease.
Wildlife and conservation groups as well as progressive farmers are backing humane, effective and scientifically sound vaccination of badgers, with herd immunity achievable in just 5 years. The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project (www.dbvp.org) is offering low-cost badger vaccination to all Dorset farmers and landowners as a cheaper and more effective alternative to culling.
Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare says:
We’re asking the NFU to stop playing political games, to review the scientific evidence which shows culling badgers is a waste of time, and to embrace modern, humane and effective vaccination instead. Having a heart for badgers means recognising that they are an important part of the British countryside, that their welfare and the welfare of cattle requires long term solutions such as vaccination and better farm management practices, not short term appeasements like culling which has been shown will make matters worse for all concerned.
Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare are proud to support the Dorset Badger Vaccination Project, which will be part of Brian May’s Badger and Cattle Vaccination Initiative. The project will offer low-cost vaccination of badgers as a humane and scientific alternative to culling.
From the DBVP website:
Professionally Trained Vaccinators will be Helping Dorset Farmers, Cattle and Wildlife in the Battle Against Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB). The Dorset Badger Vaccination Project (DBVP) has been set up by local people who have been trained by the DEFRA-funded Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) in the trapping, vaccination and release of badgers.
At the launch event at the Houses of Parliament Brian May said:
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. 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. In theory we have a bit of Government support already because they are going to supply the vaccine. And we hope that in the end, when the IEP (the independent expert panel reviewing the cull pilots) comes in – which we suspect will confirm that the pilots weren’t effective – the Government will start leaning towards vaccination.