Tag Archives: vaccination

Hey, NFU, Have a Heart for Badgers!

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DBBW at NFUSupporters 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.

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Dorset Badger Vaccination Project Launches

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DBVP Logo2

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.

Conservative Councillors Hijack Vote on Badger Cull

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COUNCIL CHEATEDIn the immortal words of Johnny Rotten, ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Today a motion by Councillor Dan Brember was put before Dorset County Council for debate and a vote. A strongly worded rebuke of government’s badger culling policy and a plea to use a science-based approach to tackle bTB, the motion was always going to raise the hackles of certain councillors. Still, there was hope at least for a vigorous debate and a show of support from those councillors who understood and appreciated the overwhelming scientific consensus that killing badgers is not the solution to addressing TB in cattle. Sadly the Conservative majority had no intention of even allowing this motion to be debated.

Before the debate began, Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare challenged the report from the Director of Environment, which had been sent to all Councillors along with the motion. The question we posed was:

 Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare are a group of local people who oppose the culling of badgers on both moral and scientific grounds and promote vaccination and improved welfare and biosecurity on farms as an effective and humane means of dealing with TB in both cattle and badgers. We support Councillor Brember’s motion to the Council, but take issue with the briefing note in your agenda papers. It suggests that scientific consensus, especially from those involved in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), supports the current badger culling programme being rolled out by the government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The quotes used in the briefing paper are woefully out of date. Quoted in The Guardian on 13 October 2012, Prof Lord Krebs, architect of the RBCT, states “The scientific case is as clear as it can be: this cull is not the answer to TB in cattle. The government is cherry-picking bits of data to support its case.” We contend that the briefing paper is also cherry-picking data to support the governments case. In addition, lead scientist of the RBCT Professor John Bourne contends that scientific opinion is overwhelmingly against the cull and states, “I just don’t know anyone who is really informed who thinks this is a good idea”. Given that current scientific consensus, especially among those scientists who were behind the £50m ten-year-long Randomised Badger Culling Trial, is now firmly against culling badgers, why is it that the briefing paper appears to paint the opposite picture?

The disappointing reply that came back was, “Given that the cull is being instigated by a government department, it is only right that the evidence used by the government to support its action is presented to the County Council”. Right, no matter whether that ‘evidence’ is based on sound science or not? The Cabinet Member for Environment went on to claim “there is a lack of published data to support the suggestion that culling will not reduce the incidence of bovine TB. It is for that reason that no counter argument is presented”. It’s difficult to know where to begin when dealing with such blatant misinformation, so we’ll leave this for another day, it requires a much fuller, dedicated, post. Back to the “debate”.

No sooner had Dan Brember introduced his motion when Conservative Councillor Hillary Cox proposed an “amendment”. To call this an amendment is like calling the new Council building in Charles Street an annex. This was a gutting that ripped out the heart of the motion and replaced it with straw. Here’s what Councillor Cox proposed:

To delete al words in the motion after “damaging” in line one, ands to substitute the following words in bold:

“This Council recognises the serious and damaging impact which bovine TB has on animal welfare and the economics of farming.

The County Council also recognises that dealing with the problem of bovine TB is a matter for the Government and Parliament at national level and, locally, for the County Council’s tenant farmers under the conditions of their tenancies. 

The Council urges the Government to be led by the best available science in finding a solution to the problems associated with bovine TB and. when implementing a solution, to ensure that it is the most humane available.”

The Chairman then directed Councillors to now only debate and comment on this amendment, which would then be up for a vote. Now it’s important at this stage to point out that Dorset for Badger and Bovine welfare is not party political, but the way this played out was certainly party politics at its worst. The makeup of Dorset County Council is as follows; the Chair, Leader of the Council, Deputy and all Cabinet members are Conservative. There are a total of 27 Conservative Councillors; the total remaining Councillors number 18. Voting as a block, the Conservative Councillors effectively shut out all debate on the most pertinent issues and didn’t allow for the original motion, which had significant non-Conservative support, to get the airing it deserved. The original motion was never even voted on, instead the weakened toothless amended motion was passed, 26 to 12.

Today it wasn’t just badgers, bovines and science that lost out, it was democracy itself.

New Group Vows to Stop Proposed Badger Cull in Dorset

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bridport bbwDorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare Choose Bridport for Inaugural Event

Bridport – Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare, with support from Animal Aid, are holding their first ever public event in Bridport. Aimed at alerting people to the proposed badger cull in Dorset, the group will be leafleting in Buckydoo Square accompanied by Animal Aid’s Badger Battle Bus – a vehicle adorned with banners against the cull and showing a film about the issue.

Dorset is the reserve area for the pilot badger culls – purportedly aimed at reducing TB in cattle –  that are currently under way in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Secretary of State for the Environment, Owen Patterson, has recently announced that the cull could be extended to Dorset as early as this year.

Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare recognises the seriousness of bTB and supports the scientific evidence which clearly shows culling badgers is not an effective way to tackle the disease and may even aid its spread. Instead we support alternative, scientifically approved, methods of reducing bovine TB in both badgers and dairy cattle, including vaccination and improved security and welfare on farms.

“This cull goes against the science,” said Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare member Ian Mortimer.  “Evidence from long-term studies demonstrates that killing badgers is not an effective way to tackle bovine TB and may actually make matters worse for dairy farmers. The government are flying in the face of the scientific evidence and are simply engaged in a game of political point-scoring.”

Notes

  • Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare was set up after a Team Badger public meeting in Dorchester in May. Attended by Brian May, the head of the RSPCA Gavin Grant, Dairy framer Steve Jones and the Director of the Humane Society Mark Jones, they urged local people to join the fight against the cull, which is what we have done.
  • The vast majority of animal welfare and conservation groups, as well as the scientists who have studied bTB in cattle and wild animals, are agreed that killing badgers is pointless. Professor John Bourne, who led the 10 year randomised badger culling trial has stated “”Despite some improvements, the government is still going nowhere near far enough with biosecurity. It is not badgers that spread the disease throughout the country; it is cattle”.
  • The badger culls will kill at least 70% of the badgers in the cull zones, but because of uncertainty over existing badger numbers and the difficulty of accounting for wounded badger which go to ground, there is a chance badgers in some areas may be wiped out all together.
  • The stated aim of the current cull is not to find out if killing badgers will reduce bTB, that study has already been done and found that killing badgers is not effective in halting the spread of the disease. Instead the current cull is designed to see if shooting free-running badgers at night with high powered rifles is an effective, “safe” and humane way of killing them.
  • There is already a successful TB vaccine for  badgers, and the Welsh government has initiated programme of vaccination in Wales rather than a cull. The Dorset Wildlife Trust is vaccinating all of the badgers on their land and Dorset for Badger and Bovine Welfare are in the process of setting up a scheme for all badgers in the county.
  • The EU have set out a 10 year plan to allow the vaccination of the entire British dairy herd, a plan that will effectively and permanently tackle the problem if followed. Sadly, short-term politicking is overshadowing such long-term planning.