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UK Badgers in Danger

UK Badgers in Danger

 

A battle against badgers has been going on in the UK for some time now.  The problem: tuberculosis in cattle.  One of the answers being discussed is to cull badgers.  The reason? Badgers are known to spread bovine tuberculosis to cattle herds.

About Bovine Tuberculosis
Bovine tuberculosis causes respiratory disease in both cattle and humans.  It is spread to humans through infected unpasteurized milk or inhaling the bacteria at slaughter.

The incubation period ranges from months to years, depending on each animal’s individual immune system. Infection is chronic and once detected the animal is killed to prevent infection of the herd.  Once infection is established in a herd, the disease spreads through aerosolized droplets or ingestion of feed infected by the saliva of a TB positive animal.

This is a serious public health issue worldwide, though it is more prevalent in developing countries that do not regularly pasteurize milk.  An article in Trends in Microbiology from Feb 2010 recognizes bovine TB is increasing in the UK.  However, the authors state, “We propose that bTB [bovine tuberculosis] control in cattle is irrelevant as a public health policy. In the UK, cattle-to-human transmission is negligible. Aerosol transmission, the only probable route of human acquisition, occurs at inconsequential levels when milk is pasteurised, even when bTB is highly endemic in cattle.”

Blaming Badgers

So why are badgers in danger of being culled in the UK?  The BBC reported there will be no badger culling this year, but after further study, a pilot culling is expected for spring 2012 with a larger implementation in 2013.

Badgers are considered a protected species under UK and European laws but on Tuesday, Caroline Spelman, Environment Secretary said she was “strongly minded” to allow culling, after details of the methodology was sent out for consultation.  Ministers have authority to approve culling of protected species in consideration of health issues.  Dairy farmers are delighted; animal advocates are annoyed.

Responses will be examined and can be emailed to the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs at tbbc@defra.gsi.gov.uk .  The DEFRA website requests “When responding, please state which organisation you are responding on behalf of.”

The long term UK study, Randomized Badger Culling Trial (RBCT) performed between 1998 and 2007 concluded:

“First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain. Indeed, some policies under consideration are likely to make matters worse rather than better. Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection. Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone.”

What the People Want
Many animal advocates including the RSPCA do not believe in badger culling as a viable option.  A poll performed last month in the UK found the majority of UK citizens do not want a badger cull to take place.  According to BBC, the poll showed 63% said badgers should NOT be culled for cattle TB with 31% in favor and the remainder is undecided.

What You Can Do
You can read about England’s Bovine TB Eradication Program.  Despite public opinion, it looks like the UK will proceed with badger culling beginning next year.  Please let your feelings be known.

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Photo credit from Flickr: sgetliffe

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90 comments

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6:11AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

Crazy, murdering Conservative B.....ds!

7:49AM PST on Mar 3, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

8:53AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

Poor badgers. Apparently no one cares much about them. Stupid humans.

1:02PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

BADGERS ARE A MAGNIFICENT PART OF OUR COUNTRYSIDE IN THE UK & SHOULD NOT BE BUTCHERED.

8:54PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Gladly signed.Thanks for the opportunity.

10:06AM PDT on Aug 7, 2011

Caz C.: That was my initial reaction: There has to be a vaccine, why not use that? And now you tell me there is one and that two agenicies are working against eachother and the badgers lose.

2:05PM PDT on Jul 31, 2011

An injectable TB vaccine for badgers is now available and Defra is funding a project using the vaccine in an area of Gloucestershire with high bTB incidence in cattle.

This trial started in summer 2010 and is planned to run for five years.

The project, which is being managed by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), aims to develop practical know-how, including how best to deploy vaccines and to meet training needs, and will inform plans for future use of both injectable and oral badger vaccines (it is hoped that oral vaccine may be available from 2014).

So why KILL the Badger?

4:24PM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

petition signed

4:31AM PDT on Jul 29, 2011

Email sent, petitions signed and liked on fb! thanks for sharing :)

6:16PM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

Norma, where have you been? almost 100 humans just got culled. or do you mean have targets? it is much more fun to have no target right?

or "do not scathe the innocent". then kill unbaptized people. those folks beleive being born marks you for filth.

or kill the ones who make those rules.

where do we go hunting first? I suggest troll some stupid 8 year old on facebook.

like the mighty preditor, the young who do not fall to it's fangs, will grow into strong adults and breed strong adults. the swiftist of antalope avoid claw and fang.

the human with a thick skin and spine of steal who can survive the pounce and savage will create a new wave of strong willed people. who will teach others how to be strong.

if they are weak. do we need more blubbering people who are damaged at everything?

(woo hoo. I don't know what is more fun, this or trying to kill Saruin,)

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