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Badger welfare group steps up its campaign after cull postponement

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 06, 2012

Derek Mead

Derek Mead

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A farmer group that is against the proposed Government cull of badgers in bovine TB hotspot areas, is using the postponement of the culling to launch a recruiting campaign.

With the six-week pilot culls in West Somerset and Gloucestershire put off until next May, the Badger Welfare Association (BWA) is appealing to cattle farmers to join up. It is campaigning for an alternative approach to the bovine TB problem, which caused the deaths of 26,000 cattle last year, and says that only if it can show it has widespread backing from the farming community will politicians start to take it seriously.

The recruitment drive comes as the BWA’s founder, Somerset and dairy farmer and WMN columnist Derek Mead warns of a storm of new TB cases this winter.

The BWA, established in August under the slogan “Healthy badgers, healthy cattle” aims to pursue an alternative approach to tackling the bovine TB epidemic, claiming the pilot culls of 70% of all badgers in the hotspot areas are based on a flawed strategy.

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It said they risked turning the public against farmers because they will inevitably lead to healthy, as well as sick and infected badgers being killed.

It is calling instead for a targeted cull aimed only at badger setts which are probably infected, and says it can equip farmers with the necessary field craft to identify them.

It wants the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to carry out a properly supervised trial of its methods, so their effectiveness can be assessed.

Mr Mead said the group had no doubt its system was effective, making use of the expertise of Devon farmer Bryan Hill. He explained: “We have an expert who has years of experience in identifying setts where there are infected badgers, and he is ready to pass on his skills to others. Because he is a farmer and not a scientist Defra is most unlikely to take him, or us, seriously.

“On the other hand, if we could show we had a significant degree of support from the farming community there is a chance that we could persuade politicians that our alternative method was worth a trial, at the very least.”

Mr Mead warned of an impending explosion of TB cases this winter.

He said: “Conditions below ground are so damp they are ideal for TB to flourish.

“A lot of badgers have been flooded out and are living above ground, and because food is scarce they are travelling further to look for it. All this adds up to a perfect situation for TB to spread.

“That must be a compelling reason for getting behind what we believe is the only practical and acceptable solution.”

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 9:34PM

    The FG link where it was first posted is not as as clear. I was the first to transpose it. My answer to him was: Keep the faith Christopher. . We will get there. . The mountain is beginning to move at last, and only the very foolish will stand in its way now. . . Charles Henry 1945-(diuturnity)

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  • eyeopener  |  November 09 2012, 9:25PM

    He laso writes very elequently... Yes and he does not include my typos! Should read: He also writes very elequently... as you can see "wot like I dont type propper like" (sic)

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  • eyeopener  |  November 09 2012, 9:23PM

    Charles why didn't you post a link so that readers could put Christopher Sturdy's into context. He laso writes very elequently... Well, I read these Anonymous posts this morning, and then I went out to spend a few minutes with my suckler cows and their spring-born calves, some of which are now almost as tall as their mothers. They were grazing happily in some welcome autumn sunshine. Yes, its emotive, but it makes the point that being a farmer does not automatically make you a criminal. I happen to agree with him. Its industrial practices not individuals that are the problem. If you would like to read more of Christopher Sturdy go to http://tinyurl.com/ckate7h

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 9:19PM

    Did you say denigrate!!?? . Badgerists have been denigrating farmers and anyone who knows what they are talking about for decades now. . And have you not been reading what they've been saying about the Badger Welfare Association (BWA)?

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 9:00PM

    "Anonymous is a badgerist, and badgerism is a faith thing. . Anonymous's grasp of logic is so slender that he has just written that if we think badgers are the real problem why is it that the proposed slaughter of badgers will produce at best a 16% fall in bTB over 9 years. . But Anonymous doesn't understand that this is the Defra's guess; that the proposed cull will be on their incredible terms, not in winter so they can breed again. . No more than 70% of the population and so on." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Sturdy

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  • eyeopener  |  November 09 2012, 8:58PM

    All I ask is that you tone it down a bit. Your as entitled to your point of view as anyone else. If I can post my opionions without having to denigrate those who believe in the efficacy of the cull, cant you simply post your opinions?

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 8:57PM

    Christopher Sturdy. . 17th. November 2011 9:41 pm Well, I read these posts this morning, and then I went out to spend a few minutes with my suckler cows and their spring-born calves, some of which are now almost as tall as their mothers. . They were grazing happily in some welcome autumn sunshine, and I thought; "We're due another TB test very soon; already had four tests in the past 12 months; we're pretty well tested to destruction round here.". . And the Dread stirs. "How many will they take this time?". They have killed over one third of my fine, mainly home-bred, healthy cows in the last year, more in previous years. . I want my cattle, not the "massive compensation" that Anonymous thinks I'm paid, (when the reality is that this year I will be £20,000 short on income, with almost no parallel reduction in my costs). Then I thought, "remember; it's your fault". What?. Why? . . What have I done? Anonymous says so; to the whole world. . Anonymous says that "cattle, farmers and Defra's failure…" are the "real root of the problem". He can't mean corn farmers; he must mean me. . I am the real root of the bTB problem. . But I've done all the required tests for years and years, so has every neighbour and beyond that I know, they just go on doing it and put up with the loss, hands tied behind their backs, slow motion execution. Or they give up. Some kill themselves. . Good riddance, they're the "real root of the problem". They leave desperate notes. And they leave families. Then I think: maybe Anonymous didn't actually mean "farmers". Maybe he (or she, apologies, I've never been to a christening where the priest says "I name this child Anonymous") meant "a very very few farmers". And I thought: "I don't tell Anonymous that he's a thief and a criminal just because a minute proportion of our society are thieves and criminals. Anonymous must mean cattle farmers. Anonymous isn't stupid, or ignorant, or careless with what he blags over the internet. If he meant "a very few" he would say that. . Anonymous knows stuff. And I thought: having got all the cattle in yet again, twice in one week, maybe raining on us all day, all the stress, will I have to hear the vet, one after another "another reactor I'm afraid". Will I be able to go on running them down the race?. Will I finally succumb to the overwhelming urge to walk off and say "test them your xxxxself"?

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 8:57PM

    "hen I phone Animal "Health" and say "I don't think I can bring myself to load these fine cattle for such unnecessary premature slaughter, you're asking me to buy the bullets for my own execution". Will she laugh like last time; think I'm joking? . Think I'm joking. . Think I'm joking! . Will she think I'm joking? . Will I return happily home and tell Jane, "No worries, just another 15 going today; what's for tea?". . Will she say "What are they doing about the badgers?". . I'll say, "Nothing. . None have been even tested. All they do is talk and delay." They don't want to lose the vote of Anonymous. . Anonymous knows such a lot. Anonymous is a badgerist, and badgerism is a faith thing. . Anonymous's grasp of logic is so slender that he has just written that if we think badgers are the real problem why is it that the proposed slaughter of badgers will produce at best a 16% fall in bTB over 9 years. . But Anonymous doesn't understand that this is the Defra's guess; that the proposed cull will be on their incredible terms, not in winter so they can breed again. . No more than 70% of the population and so on. Anonymous has written that Defra's guess means that badgers aren't the "real problem". . That's the "logic". Incredibly, Anonymous doesn't understand that whether or not badgers are the "real problem" has absolutely nothing to do with Defra's culling proposals. . Anonymous won't even understand what I'm saying. . If he could understand, he could not possibly have written what he did. Maybe Anonymous will give us a little homily on the Scientific Method, like we had from Jdaven7034 last week. . Thanks in advance. And I say to the Ministry vet at the test, "it's not working is it?" "What isn't working?" he says. "Your policy to control bTB". "Well, we're clearing it from the cattle." he says. "Yes, you're clearing it from the cattle. . Like you have done since about 1930." . I need to remember. . It's my fault. . Anonymous is right. . It's my fault. .The farmers are the "real root of the problem". . And I'm one of them. . I hang my head. . I will not let despair take over. . I try and enjoy the autumn sunshine. Hard luck story?. No, that's exactly how it is here on the coal face, for thousands and thousands of us here in the West and Wales. . Exactly how it is. Newt is right. . This news story, sabotaged to revisit yet again the culling thing, was a real breath of fresh air. . The Badgerists, or some of them, stepping gingerly back from pure faith and dogma, to do a little experiment. Linking up with a very enlightened NFU man, five very enlightened farmers. . No doubt if there are good results, the Badgerists won't be worrying about lack of control experiments. It's light years away from a solution, but it's a supernova in terms of human progress. . Let's hope that the enlightenment grows; more tests ensue, and truly independent observers tell us what results they find. In the intervening years, while we carry on waiting, like we waited for Nick Brown, Margaret Beckett, David Miliband, Hilary Benn, Jim Paice and others, what will Anonymous have to say to me when they have killed my last breeding cow? . "Silly cow farmer, you were the 'real root of the problem'. . Ten of your mates disobeyed the rules." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christopher Sturdy

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  • eyeopener  |  November 09 2012, 8:55PM

    @Charlespk Libel? Like all readers, I have access to what you have written on this webite. Test it in court!

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  • Charlespk  |  November 09 2012, 8:47PM

    And are you libelling me again eyeopener?

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