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100,000 sign Brian May's e-petition against the badger cull

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: September 25, 2012

Brian May

Brian May

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A campaign to stop a proposed cull of badgers in Somerset has hit a milestone with 100,000 people signing a petition against the plans.

The e-petition was launched by Queen guitarist and campaigner Brian May last week as part of the “team badger” campaign, after the first licence to kill the protected wild animal was issued for a pilot cull in Gloucestershire.

Reaching the 100,000 signatures milestone means the issue could be debated in Parliament, although this is not automatic.

Campaigners say a cull of badgers will not have a significant effect in reducing TB in livestock, and want the focus to be shifted on to vaccination.

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But supporters of the cull say the move is necessary to tackle TB in cattle because the wild animal spreads the disease to livestock, costing farmers and the taxpayer millions of pounds a year.

A long-term study found that culling over a number of years on a large scale could reduce the incidence of TB in cattle herds by 16%.

Farmers will be licensed to shoot up to 70% of the badgers in a 300 square kilometre area in Gloucestershire. A second licence for a pilot cull in Somerset is still being considered.

Responding to the news that more than 100,000 people had signed the petition against the cull, shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “There is widespread concern about the Government’s decision to press ahead with a badger cull despite their own official advice that it will cost more than it saves and will spread bovine TB in the short term as badgers are disturbed by the shooting.

“Ministers should listen to the scientists and can this cull which is bad for farmers, bad for taxpayers and bad for wildlife.”

The petition/a> to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says:

We, the undersigned, call on the government to stop the planned cull of badgers on the following grounds:

· Over 70% of the badger population in large areas of the country will be killed, many of them healthy.

· The method of free-shooting badgers could cause severe to many thousands of badgers.

· Independent scientific studies have shown that culling would be of little help in reducing bovine TB, and even suggest that it could make things worse in some areas.

We urge the government to stop the cull and implement the more sustainable and humane solution of both a vaccination programme for badgers and cattle, along with improved testing and biosecurity.

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  • Charlespk  |  September 26 2012, 6:25PM

    email received December 16 2009. During my long career as a country veterinary surgeon, nature taught me time and time again that if there is trouble with animals you have to find and eliminate the source. If it is an infection then the species of bacteria, virus or mycosis needs to be treated adequately. If you fail to get rid of these sources of infection then sooner or later there will be more trouble and misery. It is exactly the same as toothache.With tuberculosis an infected animal or herd is a focus. If you do not manage to eliminate that focus or if you do not even try to do it, the problem will get worse. Vaccinating before the herd is clean will definitely make things worse. If politicians continue to ignore the advice of experienced veterinary surgeons about how to get rid of bovine TB, nature will hit back and teach them a lesson or two. Nature does not look back, does not care how much money is spent, she just keeps going her own way. Vast amounts are being spent both on compensation and on future schemes. This money will be totally wasted unless the government is brave enough to accept the fact that huge reservoirs of bovine TB lie in the overcrowded badger population. Some 40,000 head of cattle are being culled every year due to TB and this figure is rising by 10% per annum. It is unclear how many ten thousands of badgers are infected and are further spreading this disease. problem will get worse. Vaccinating before the herd is clean will definitely make things worse. If politicians continue to ignore the advice of experienced veterinary surgeons about how to get rid of bovine TB, nature will hit back and teach them a lesson or two. Nature does not look back, does not care how much money is spent, she just keeps going her own way. Vast amounts are being spent both on compensation and on future schemes. This money will be totally wasted unless the government is brave enough to accept the fact that huge reservoirs of bovine TB lie in the overcrowded badger population. Some 40,000 head of cattle are being culled every year due to TB and this figure is rising by 10% per annum. It is unclear how many ten thousands of badgers are infected and are further spreading this disease. DEFRA seems to ignore or tries to vaccinate even diseased badgers which could well induce further spreading. Maybe the government also needs to consider the welfare of the whole badger population. Death by TB is extremely slow, miserable and painful. Finally bovine TB can also be infectious to humans and some domestic animals …… Dr. Ueli Zellweger

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  • dodge102  |  September 26 2012, 3:57PM

    Badger cull in the interests of no one. Once again a British government has chosen to seek the best possible scientific advice and then ignore it! The licensed killing of badgers in parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset could achieve a number of things. It could further advertise the unwelcome existence of bovine tuberculosis in British dairy herds. It could polarise opinion in the countryside and unite political opposition everywhere else. It could cost the farmers involved more than they could gain. It will almost certainly provoke active protest and put even more pressure on already hard-pressed police forces. What it will almost certainly not do is limit bovine tuberculosis, even in the target zones of Gloucestershire and Somerset. It might be helpful to list those things that are certain. Human tuberculosis is a dangerous disease. Bovine tuberculosis is a real problem for dairy farmers – who in any case have been paid too little for their milk and who have been going out of business for decades – and the disease lives on in the wild badger population. But by 1996, a policy of identification and slaughter had reduced the incidence of bovine TB in dairy herds in England and Wales to less than half a per cent, and the risk of direct transmission to humans has – with the pasteurisation of milk – long ago become negligible. The last and most systematic examination of the link between badgers and bovine TB found that, indeed, there was transmission, and proposed a series of systematic, randomised controlled trials over a sustained period to see whether culling could provide an answer. In 2003, the government, farmers, public health officers and wildlife campaigners got the answer: shooting and gassing did not eliminate, and could possibly spread, the disease. That may be because badgers disturbed in one area could migrate, taking the infection with them. The answer, delivered by Lord Krebs and the distinguished statisticians and zoologists who examined the results, could hardly be clearer: killing will not solve the problem. Lord Krebs's scientific credentials are not in doubt. He was trusted by successive British governments to head the Natural Environment Research Council, and to chair the Food Standards Agency. And he has just described the latest plan as a "crazy scheme". http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv

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  • MimiGallagher  |  September 26 2012, 3:42PM

    Fantastic news about the petition. I hope the politicians at least have the sense to get a proper debate on this in the House of Commons. Improved bio-security, investment in vaccines for cows (and badgers) will help tackle bTB. This crazy scheme probably won't and in any case the pilot culls have no intention whatsoever of seeing if they do reduce bTB. It is a pilot to see if they can shoot enough badgers who are running free at night. Surely even 2ladybugs and Charlespk who seem self appointed experts in this matter cannot agree that shooting free running badgers at night is the best policy for trying to tackle cow TB.

    |   -1
  • MimiGallagher  |  September 26 2012, 3:41PM

    Fantastic news about the petition. I hope the politicians at least have the sense to get a proper debate on this in the House of Commons. Improved bio-security, investment in vaccines for cows (and badgers) will help tackle bTB. This crazy scheme probably won't and in any case the pilot culls have no intention whatsoever of seeing if they do reduce bTB. It is a pilot to see if they can shoot enough badgers who are running free at night. Surely even 2ladybugs and Charlespk who seem self appointed experts in this matter cannot agree that shooting free running badgers at night is the best policy for trying to tackle cow TB.

    |   -1
  • MimiGallagher  |  September 26 2012, 3:41PM

    Fantastic news about the petition. I hope the politicians at least have the sense to get a proper debate on this in the House of Commons. Improved bio-security, investment in vaccines for cows (and badgers) will help tackle bTB. This crazy scheme probably won't and in any case the pilot culls have no intention whatsoever of seeing if they do reduce bTB. It is a pilot to see if they can shoot enough badgers who are running free at night. Surely even 2ladybugs and Charlespk who seem self appointed experts in this matter cannot agree that shooting free running badgers at night is the best policy for trying to tackle cow TB.

    |   -1
  • Charlespk  |  September 25 2012, 5:58PM

    TB Wales Email Apart from the obviously now very urgent imperative to end the slaughter of thousands of reactor cattle that's causing endless misery for farming families; those of us who care about children, way above their own self-promotion, know that there has to be a badger cull or eventually we'll just have more and more of this. EMAIL SENT/RECEIVED April 2nd. 2006 County Times. Powys, Mid Wales. "Dear Mary, This is winding up into something very nasty. We were told about the problem last autumn, but the newspapers / media had very little on it. Local vets and farmers knew and fed us bits. This (below) was published 30th. March, and our source has now had another conversation with SVS vets and private vets in the area. In the late 1990's just a couple of farms were under bTb restriction, but that has now surged to become 30/40. Dead badgers have been found in the area, including one on school playing fields. This carcass was taken to test for 'poison'. but HSE stepped in and stopped the postmortem - inadequate Group 3 pathogen facilities (?). . It was riddled. SVS sent letters to Welsh Assembly / Page St. and they were lost stolen or strayed. The whole episode was buried. Page St. wanted absolutely no positive Tb badgers. In the last 3/4 years eight or nine children, not including this little one, have had treatment for enlarged neck glands. This involved either a 6 month course of antibiotics, or operations to remove. Classic m.bovis lesions I'm told (by a vet) but referred euphemistically by doctors as "Atypical tuberculosis from a non human source". They are telling these kids, that they picked it up from the ground. The badgers use the school playing fields as latrines, and a newish housing estate borders the same farmland too. We're ignoring those canaries again. (reactor cows)" http://tinyurl.com/9r6ennv (open in a new window)

    |   1
  • Charlespk  |  September 25 2012, 5:56PM

    email received December 16 2009. During my long career as a country veterinary surgeon, nature taught me time and time again that if there is trouble with animals you have to find and eliminate the source. If it is an infection then the species of bacteria, virus or mycosis needs to be treated adequately. If you fail to get rid of these sources of infection then sooner or later there will be more trouble and misery. It is exactly the same as toothache.With tuberculosis an infected animal or herd is a focus. If you do not manage to eliminate that focus or if you do not even try to do it, the problem will get worse. Vaccinating before the herd is clean will definitely make things worse. If politicians continue to ignore the advice of experienced veterinary surgeons about how to get rid of bovine TB, nature will hit back and teach them a lesson or two. Nature does not look back, does not care how much money is spent, she just keeps going her own way. Vast amounts are being spent both on compensation and on future schemes. This money will be totally wasted unless the government is brave enough to accept the fact that huge reservoirs of bovine TB lie in the overcrowded badger population. Some 40,000 head of cattle are being culled every year due to TB and this figure is rising by 10% per annum. It is unclear how many ten thousands of badgers are infected and are further spreading this disease. problem will get worse. Vaccinating before the herd is clean will definitely make things worse. If politicians continue to ignore the advice of experienced veterinary surgeons about how to get rid of bovine TB, nature will hit back and teach them a lesson or two. Nature does not look back, does not care how much money is spent, she just keeps going her own way. Vast amounts are being spent both on compensation and on future schemes. This money will be totally wasted unless the government is brave enough to accept the fact that huge reservoirs of bovine TB lie in the overcrowded badger population. Some 40,000 head of cattle are being culled every year due to TB and this figure is rising by 10% per annum. It is unclear how many ten thousands of badgers are infected and are further spreading this disease. DEFRA seems to ignore or tries to vaccinate even diseased badgers which could well induce further spreading. Maybe the government also needs to consider the welfare of the whole badger population. Death by TB is extremely slow, miserable and painful. Finally bovine TB can also be infectious to humans and some domestic animals …… Dr. Ueli Zellweger

  • Charlespk  |  September 25 2012, 5:49PM

    I doubt that less than 1% has the first clue about M.bovis or the genus, or the BCG vaccine. . This won't change anything. Why BCG does not perform like other Vaccines. In any normal infection the body defence works by production of vast amounts of antibodies. Such antibodies can also be stimulated by ordinary vaccines for all kinds of bacteria and virus diseases and they can be traced in blood which makes diagnosis with various techniques fairly easy. . But this does not work for Tuberculosis - it never did and it never will do - because the tubercle bacteria have a waxy coat to which antibodies cannot attach. Tuberculosis therefore causes a so called humoral body defence; that means the very slowly multiplying bacteria are attacked by enzymes and white blood cells mainly. These are killing or even digesting the bacteria by a method called phagocytosis resulting in crumbly pus in the so called tubercles - whole heaps or lumps containing several 1000 to billions of bacteria. This defence is much more unspecific and slower than the usual one by antibodies. . Any BCG vaccine stimulates this humoral defence only but never prevents an infection; it may keep it on a low scale maybe. There is no other vaccine available and there most probably will never be another one. No matter how many millions more DEFRA invests (I hear of some 30 so far for the Vaccine only) this is nature - which cannot be forced by politics. Dr. Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset.

    |   1
  • L0ftyLady  |  September 25 2012, 5:08PM

    At last the voters are beginning to rise up against those who seek incapable of reading or comprehending scientific research. If you don't know how many badgers there are in an area how do you know you are culling 70% of them? Plus only 10% of them are likely to have Btb anyway (incidentally the B = Bovine not Badger). Culling will cause badgers to flee from one area to another so that previously unaffected badger setts will then risk being infected which if badgers do spread it to cattle (which has not definitely been proven) will also potentially be infected. This Government (and some, but not all farmers) need a scapegoat to take the blame for poor bovine practices and have a seemingly inherent need to murder British wildlife (Incidentally badgers prefer earthworms to hedgehogs so cannot be realistically be blamed for their demise - a fact that some Tory MP's don't comprehend either). Well done to Brian May, Sir David Attenborough, Simon King, Chris Packham, the LACS, the RSPCA and the Badger Trust as well as members of Team Badger - the petition is now at over 115,000 and on its way to 1,000,000 - all potential voters at the next election. If you haven't signed it yet (it is only avaialble online and just takes a few seconds) you can find it at http://tinyurl.com/bvjp9rv Thank you.

    |   8
  • 2ladybugs  |  September 25 2012, 3:08PM

    Well we can see that this report is biased.....no surprise there then. So many false statements that it isn't even worth the paper it is printed on.

    |   1

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