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Animal activists plan badger cull protest camps on Dunster Estate

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 06, 2012

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Protest camps similar to the infamous sites set up to fight the Newbury bypass could be established on a Crown-owned West Country estate as animal activists fight the badger cull.

And they say they may imitate the animals they are trying to save by digging tunnels to remain on the land.

A spokesman for Stop the Cull, which is organising direct action said yesterday a protest camp would be set up on the 3,800-acre Dunster Estate on Exmoor, which attracts thousands of country lovers to its tranquil wide open spaces.

It follows news that Natural England has issued a licence for farmers to shoot badgers in West Somerset on land thought to include the estate. It has already issued a licence to farmers to shoot badgers in a 100 square mile area of West Gloucestershire. The West Somerset acreage is understood to be smaller.

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The Stop the Cull spokesman said the plan is to target a “large corporation” rather than singling out “small dairy farmers”. “As soon as the cull starts we are going to set up protest camp on the Crown Estate. They can come and evict us but it will be very costly. It will be like Newbury Bypass protests,” he said. The 1996 Newbury Bypass protests against the A30 in Devon lasted for several weeks and made protester Daniel Hooper, known as Swampy, a household name.

The Crown Estate manages the Queen’s property portfolio but revenues go to the Treasury.

A spokesman said farmers have been given the go ahead to take part in the cull. “At the moment we are keeping the situation under review.”

’direct action’ animal rights groups say they will make noise around setts where culls are being carried out to warn the badgers to stay underground and even carry out “citizens arrests”.

Police have cancelled leave in order to keep an eye on the cull, that has to take place over six weeks before the beginning of February.

Natural England said the new licence will allow farmers to kill 70 per cent of badgers in the area of West Somerset over four years.

A survey will be carried out first, so that farmers can be given a head count of the number of badgers they are allowed to kill.

“Under the terms of the licence, and in accordance with the criteria specified in the bTB control policy, licensees will be authorised to reduce badger populations in the pilot area by at least 70 per cent and maximum numbers will be specified to prevent the risk of local extinction,” said a spokesman.

Once the surveys are complete, thought to be by the end of October at the latest, the culling can go ahead in both areas.

Farmers claim that badgers spread the cattle disease and want to kill off the disease in wildlife.

However the RSPCA insists that the killing of thousands of badgers will not stop the spread of the disease.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 20 2012, 3:31PM

    It's peoples total lack of understanding of how this genus has evolved, moved, developed and does now move between and amongst all mammalian species that we have this problem. The genus has 4000+ genes (virtually all types) 75% of which are believed to have evolved simply to evade any hosts immune responses, which is why it is so successful. There is less than 0.05% difference between genetic make up of M.tuberculosis and M.bovis. That why Jean Antoine Villemin was eventually able to subculture M.bovis to make the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin BCG vacine for humans 90 years ago. Below: How TB Jumps From Humans to Wildlife – Vet Seeks Clues http://tinyurl.com/dhxvbk (open in a new window) The European Commission has warned UK Governments they need to show greater long-term commitment to tackling the problem of bovine TB (bTB) in wildlife. In a report seen by Farmers Guardian, the Commission insists there is 'no scientific evidence' badger vaccination will work, compared with the 'considerable evidence' badger removal will improve the TB status of both badgers and cattle. Brussels officials warn the Welsh TB eradication plan has been 'disrupted' and will 'lose impetus' as a result of the decision taken this year to opt for vaccination over culling. It called on UK politicians to 'commit to a long-term strategy' that transcends party politics and fear of what voters might think. The European Commission co-funds TB eradication policies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the tune of €32 million a year. Earlier this year, it sent a delegation over to the UK to ensure the money is being spent effectively and should continue to be paid. No country in the world has conquered this problem without first tackling the problem in any wild-life where the disease is self -sustaining.

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  • Hareymary  |  October 16 2012, 4:52PM

    @grannyonline1 : Thanks for the warning about Charles but I've read his oft repeated, outdated URLs, plus an email dated 2006, and he is not on my radar any more. It was a bit wearisome for a while but he's very predictable and he just makes me chuckle now.

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  • grannyonline1  |  October 15 2012, 6:33PM

    charlespk........im not going to comment any further to you. You know nothing about the subject of TB in cattle, or how best to erradicate it.Sad You just will not listen to those who do!

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  • Charlespk  |  October 15 2012, 5:17PM

    Granny you need to get an understanding of the M.tuberculosis TB causing bacteria before start talking even more nonsense about a subject you clearly have absolutely no understanding of. Email from Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset' "Sir, 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. 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 ……" That was when we had a pusillanimous Labour government. . We now have a coalition government that have at last found some testosterone and at last realise you can't have medicine by plebiscite of the populace.

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  • grannyonline1  |  October 15 2012, 4:36PM

    harymary........agree with all you say, but you will never change charlespk mind. Its because of people with his attitude, that this cull is even as far along as it is.They need to move with the times, embrace MODERN science,not be stuck in the past, repeating past mistakes.But above all LISTEN to the oipinions of those who REALLY understand the science.Name calling gets us no where charlespk

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  • Charlespk  |  October 15 2012, 1:59PM

    Have a read of this Mary and look into your heart. :((( http://tinyurl.com/cdq39xm

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  • Charlespk  |  October 15 2012, 12:42PM

    It's shame it's so wasted on Mary. 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

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  • Charlespk  |  October 15 2012, 12:03PM

    "DEFRA thinks to manage to develop a DIVA test thus being able to differentiate between a skin reaction caused by bTB and the one caused by BCG. It is unclear if such a test ever will reach permission or Europeanwide approbation; however there is a high risk that some countries will decide at some stage that they are not interested in any English beef products any longer when it cannot be guaranteed that there is no bTB. The routine bTB skin test alone in many cases is unreliable enough ( inconclusive or even false negative results ) and the Gamma Interferon bloodtest - apart from being expensive - is quite often hampered by some other influences. There definitely is no need of another uncertainty in this whole issue. It is horror for me to see how things are going the wrong way and every month some hundred more farms are starting suffering dramatically. It is not 5 minutes before noon to rethink this whole approach by DEFRA - politically steered as it is - NO it is half past noon and even with a quick U turn the future of battling bTB looks bleak." Dr Ueli Zellweger MRCVS GST TVL Somerset a veterinary surgeon of 30 years experience with cattle. You can of course believe Mary and the rest of these 'baderists'.

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  • Charlespk  |  October 15 2012, 11:55AM

    Peddling your mis-information will not help Mary. "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

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  • Harymary  |  October 15 2012, 11:44AM

    While vaccination is the response to most infectious diseases, with cattle and Bovine TB it is the one weapon in the disease management armoury which has yet to be deployed. A vaccine against Bovine TB for cattle (along with the associated DIVA test which differentiates between infected and vaccinated animals) has been developed and is ready to licence, but is held up by regulatory and European legal obstacles. Meanwhile farmers are being misled into believing that cattle vaccination is many years away."

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