CanineTB

“Defra says that bTB in dogs is not a notifiable disease, but an outbreak of this size in [hunting] dogs that work across farmland must surely now be taken seriously. Just how many other packs are infected?
And of course hound-to-cattle bTB transmission, perhaps via hound excrement left in fields pastured by cattle, is entirely plausible – a fact that concerned farmers are waking up to. Hound excrement may even be infecting badgers with bTB.” http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988743/bovine_tb_found_in_foxhounds_and_nothing_to_do_with_badgers_now_what.html

Defra reminded the public that the purpose of the badger culling programme is to eradicate badgers. Reports of bovine TB infecting others species are just a distraction.

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Badge of Success

“Almost 1,500 badgers were killed during last year’s badger cull, according to Defra. The government described the effort as a success.” (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/23/badger-cull-protesters-change-tactics-in-response-to-expansion)

Ah, the answer to my question “what is the motivation for culling badgers?” – ‘Success’ is not measured as fewer cows with bovine TB, it’s a great big pile of uninfected, inhumanely killed, badger carcasses.

Five ways to take action against the cull, from dairy boycotts to non-violent protests.

Badger Cattle Battle

“Bovine TB is probably not passed by direct contact between species, but rather indirectly through contaminated pasture … badgers like to hang around earthworm-rich cattle pasture, but not the cattle themselves. Badger faeces and sputum — and cow pats from infected cattle — might be the carriers of M. bovis in farms.” (http://www.nature.com/news/scientists-track-badger-cow-encounters-to-understand-cattle-tb-1.20378)

Just out of curiosity, what is the motivation for culling badgers? Obviously scientific and economic justifications are long since debunked, so is it simply to mollify the ‘shoot the scapegoat’ brigade? Is it time to wean them off the infected badger sputum?

Tubercullosis

“Scientists have found a clear correlation between more intensive farming systems and cattle falling ill with TB. … Farms with herds of 150 cattle or more are 50% more likely to suffer an outbreak of TB than herds with fewer than 50 animals. … The researchers also find a clear correlation between the use of maize for silage cattle feed and the incidence of TB.” (http://www.soilassociation.org/news/newsstory/articleid/8547/intensive-farming-link-with-bovine-tb)

This news will only exacerbate government’s cognitive dissonance regarding badgers. It will be filed under ‘more evidence that badgers, through herding cattle into small barns and feeding them maize, are infecting them with bTB.’

Ridicullous

The National Farmers Union remains “committed to seeing badger culling rolled out to other areas where TB is endemic to help control and eradicate this terrible disease, which continues to devastate the lives of farming families.” (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/10/badger-cubs-to-be-shot-in-latest-cull-plan)

Implying that ‘farming families’ include cattle or that farmers catch bovine TB only fuels a stereotype.

Testy

“The number of badgers killed in the TVR [test-vaccinate/remove] approach is likely to be low, as there are limits to the numbers of badgers that will be trapped and found to be infected, and only around half (49%) of infected badgers test positive for the disease [bovine tuberculosis].” (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/09/badger-cull-pilot-risks-spreading-bovine-tb)

49% accuracy being an improvement on indiscriminate culls.