Badger Cull

(161 Posts)
ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 07:33:09

Anyone have any opinions on the badger cull?
Or the protests surrounding them?

itsatiggerday Tue 27-Aug-13 17:21:19

Matthew Parris wrote an interesting editorial on Saturday - not actually about badger culling, his point was about the reaction to David Miranda's arrest - but about the arguments people use to try and rationalise their point of view.

His point was that people often provide reasons for their argument but actually they just have a settled opinion so even if their reasons were discredited they would still hold to their view. So in Miranda's case, the protests were all justified with abuse of process etc and he agreed if there had been, it should be dealt with appropriately, but actually the pure left wing opinion is basically that the state shouldn't be able to use any kind of state intervention in the individual on the basis of intelligence / security etc and it would be a more helpful debate to acknowledge the underlying reason.

WRT badger culling, I think the same is true. It's not about the method of culling - how come shooting is good for foxes vs nasty hunting but too cruel for badgers - or about the lack of attention to the cost in the cattle or the human cost to farmers' livelihoods, the protests are based on a settled opinion that humans do not have the right to cause wildlife pain or detriment for our own benefit or convenience. At its purest, adherents will also be vegetarian / vegan and therefore remove the hypocrisy re cattle raised for meat.

The problem for them being actually honest about that is that lots of people who are instinctively squeamish about a badger cull would have more qualms about actually valuing badger welfare the same or higher than human welfare in as many words so there is more popular support if they fudge their reasons.

madaki Tue 27-Aug-13 17:38:10

I have no strong feelings about badgers, if it saves people's livelihoods to cull them in a humane way, I won't protest that decision.

I do have a few queries out of interest though- not sure if anyone can help?
why now?
Has there been a change/reduction of badger predators? (do badgers have predators/ what would they be?)

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 17:57:51

I believe it's because of the number of farms affected, and the cost to the govt.

TB has become more common in cattle since badgers were given protected status (in the 90s?). No one knows for sure if there is a direct correlation, but anecdotal evidence suggests that there is.

It seems that the current badger population is recovered enough to handle this trial.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:04:24

I think its a good thing to do. It is worth a try. Its only a cull - not an extinction.

Its all about balance.

They need to remove the protective status of sparrowhawks too (having had our garden birds decimated by them). Now we have bloody kestrels hanging around the place. Its awful - I just want a garden full of small animals - not the air above dominated by large birds which scare (or kill) all the small animals and birds off! We don't get a decent dawn chorus now - first time in my memory - sad.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:09:46

I didn't know that frog, that's sad. You're right it's about balance.

Balance in nature, balanced research, balanced coverage.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:13:20

BBC coverage seems incredibly emotive to me.

This man says he will stand between a gun and a badger???

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:17:31

Hang on, take that back, this is more rational.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 18:27:47

I am completely against a cull, and live in an area in Wales that was to be the pilot cull area a few years ago.

100s of us campaigned vigorously against it for 2 years, thankfully the Welsh Assembly saw sense and we are now in our 2nd year of a badger vaccination policy. This along with tight cattle controlled measures have greatly reduced TB incidences in cattle. The professionals that vaccinated our badgers only a couple of weeks ago have said every single one they've caught this year, have been healthy with no signs of TB whatsoever.

To all of you saying that the English cull isn't cruel, you are so wrong, they are free shooting, at least when our cull was proposed the badgers were to be trapped and shoot with 1 single shot.. Free shooting has NO guarantee of the first shot being effective, it's disgusting!

There are so many problems that occur with culling, Brian May, David Attenborough, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham and all, are completely on the ball, and a cull is the wrong way to go.

I will just add, Deer, Sheep, Rats and even dogs have been found to carry TB!

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 18:33:17

Oh and good on the man that said he would stand between a badger and a gun, for believing in something so strongly.
I can tell you, i would have done whatever it took to not let it happen on my land!

Rant over smile

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 18:44:16

really pleased to see so many rational opinions on here smile

I agree with northern lurker.

However, more needs to be done - much much more

TB testing of cattle needs to be done much more accurately. The percentage that come back as reactors is very high compared to the percentage of cattle that actually do have it. And they put them down, and restrict the farms anyway.

I can think of nothing more devastating than to lose your favourite cow, with no say over it, and then to find out it never had the disease anyway. And nobody thinks it matters because the gov paid you some paltry compensation that probably doesn't cover what it was worth, and even if it's economically fair - you can't replace that cow!

I think more should be being done to sort a viable, safe vaccine for the cattle themselves too.

I am unsure as to whether a badger cull will work tbh. Am aware of some schools of thought as to whether it will spread infected badgers to other areas.

Have no sympathy with protesters though, that purport to be animal lovers, that are happy to let 1000's of cattle die, and infected badgers infect many other animals......as a previous poster said, deer etc - and also domestic pets.

And who want to persecute honest people and landowners who believe they are trying to do the right thing.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:44:37

Perhaps the cull isn't the only answer, but all other options are going to take too long. I know farms that have been shut down for years already...to wait for a vaccine means they will be out of business.

But you're right, there are other things that need to be looked at. Like the type and quality of TB testing.

How does vaccinating an already infected badger help? And how are the badgers tested? It is practically symptomless in cattle, I wonder how it manifests in other creatures? These are genuine queries btw, not trying to wind anyone up.

However, I lack respect for anyone who believes so strongly in animal welfare that they'd risk their own lives. I think that mans priorities are seriously screwed up.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:48:24

Cazboldy, I didn't see your post before my last one...but I agree completely.

You sound like you have direct experience of the testing of cattle. I always think it would be easier to vaccinate the cows...the govt has an I depth and accurate record of where every animal is, and when. How is it logical to try and vaccinate an infinite number of wild animals that could be anywhere?

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:50:21

I don't think any one animal should have automatic protection anyway. The balance has to be carefully managed - if an animal is protected and never culled, the population becomes too high. If the population of badgers can take a cull, then surely it is worth a try to reduce the spread of TB. It may not be the only answer - but little is talked about the damage badgers do too. They make a hell of a mess and if the population gets too high then it can be at the detriment of other ecosystems surely?

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 18:54:44

yeah I do. We have a small herd of our own, and my dh also is herdsman for a larger herd.

Last year 2 cattle on the farm were "inconclusive reactors" which means they might have it.

They were taken and killed and thankfully did not have it.

But it didn't make them any less dead! and the farm was shut up for 6 months.

Trivial compared to those that have a much worse problem, but it really is scary. i know lots of people who have been directly affected.

We only have 24, all have names, are more like pets really, and we show them locally. They belong to the dc, and they spend hours every week training them to walk on the halter, feeding them, cleaning them out, bathing them to take to a show etc.

We dread every test.

I think the actual figures are that about 13 out of every 100 killed do actually have TB. sad

I think they are years away from a vaccine, as the problem would be differentiating between a vaccinated cow or an infected cow (correct me if anyone knows better)

also has to do with EC legislation.

Thursdaylast agree with what you say too smile

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:00:55

I sometimes wonder how many of the animal rights protestors eat meat or wear leather.

If they do then it is a wonder they don't put their efforts into better animal husbandry in battery farms/intensively reared animals and the slaughter houses. Transport to slaughter houses for some of the animals from large impersonalised farms is terrible.

There are far more important animal welfare concerns they could protest about which would help millions of animals and poultry. Why do they put so much effort into a handful of badgers which will have had a great life in the wild, and 99% will be killed very humanely.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:02:49

There is a vaccine its being used here as i said.. they estimate a TB infected badger will die within 3 years, vaccinated or not, our programme is set to run for 5 years, leaving all the remaining badgers well free of TB.
They will not perform post mortems on all the killed badgers, they do not and will not know for sure what proportion of those badgers are carrying TB.

The cull will have to run for longer then 5 years to eradicate TB in badgers in that area. One of the problems with culling is that fleeing unculled TB carrying badgers will move their setts to the outlying land that surrounds the cull area, therefore spreading it.

Did you know TB is even live in slurry? I can tell you there are no measures in place if a farmer gets slurry on his boots/ tractor wheels and goes to visit his mate next door.
Theres so many things wrong, it's ridiculous.. and at the end of the day, according to DEFRA, a cull can at best only hope to reduce TB figures by 12 - 15%.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:05:07

FGS frogwatcher do you seriously think freeshooting is humane???

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 19:10:45

But isn't it worth it to prevent 12-15% of deaths of cattle?

Badgers might flee, but without any measures the TB will spread anyway.

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 19:36:13

Jellykat we were talking about a vaccine forcattle

I can't see how a badger vaccine can be effective. Surely a certain percentage (a high one) needs to be vaccinated to eradicate a disease (as we have seen in measles outbreaks in humans!)

How would/dp you ensure this when we don't even know for definite how many badgers there are??

Like Thursdaylast said, it would be easier, and make more sense to vaccinate cattle.

(although obviously this wouldn't make the badgers healthy!)

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:40:24

Warning - do not read this post if you don't want a personal, but frank, view on how I see slaughter of animals including some stark views on the methods of death.

Jellykat - in answer to your question.

I do think that generally free-shooting is a far better method of death for an animal than a slaughterhouse or trapping. That is my personal view.

Freeshooting can be harsh if done by amateurs and poor shooters. Most professional free shooters are bloody good shots and I don't often see a wounded animal run off! I have seen many cows get loose in a slaughterhouse, I have seen many poor pigs in a terrible state many hours pre slaughter. I have seen chickens, and ducks, get through the neck slit alive and go for plucking and drawing. I have seen much distress after transport and lorries full of livestock sitting in full sun at the edge of a motorway for hours. I have seen chickens in the middle of lorries arrive dead at the slaughterhouse through suffocation.

If I was an animal I would rather have a good free life and then be free shot when I wasn't expecting it, rather than await my fate in the smell and stress of a slaughter house (particularly if it followed an intensively reared life with little free movement). To my mind, being shot when not expecting it, is like dying in your sleep or very quickly. It may be distressing for a few moments, but generally it is quick. For that I would certainly be grateful, and I would prefer if all meat was produced in that way. Not practical I know but I long for small slaughter houses to return and in and ideal world would have all meat slaughtered at source/farm.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:58:47

frogwatcher Noone ever suggested rounding up the badgers and carting them off to a slaughterhouse, that was never in the equation.

The humane way would be as was previously suggested here in our IAA. To bait traps for a few nights, set the traps on the last night and shoot cleanly with one shot. Our badgers were held before vaccinating for a very short time, and were not stressed by it, in fact 2 of our vaccinated badgers returned to the set traps the following night)

From what i have read not every killing is carried out by a professional marksman, and only a small percentage will be monitored (i somehow suspect those monitored WILL however be done by a professional) There is no guarantee whatsoever that the shooters will kill their victim with one shot, and that wounded animals will not manage to escape.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:16:26

What is the difference in shooting after trapping, or free shooting? If free shooting is done by an experienced shooter then it can, and is likely to be, accurate.

I agree that it should be done by those who are good shots. That is essential.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 20:17:34

..and i'm sorry, but there's an awful lot of farmers that despise badgers with avengance, (badger baiting used to be great fun confused).. I seriously worry about what will happen once the green light for badger killing is given in those unmonitored areas.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:17:41

If it was me, I wouldn't want to trap first as to me that makes the experience more stressful for the animal.

Free shooting all the way for me I am afraid. But then I am surrounded by people who are good at it and very accurate shots.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:18:43

Jellykat - surely it won't be a free for all cull though. There will be specific areas and controls on numbers.

I think most farmers toe the line to be honest (certainly in my family they do). They may not want to, but they do.

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