Broc Number 36. Autumn 2007
An Broc (The Badger) is the newsletter of Badgerwatch (Ireland).
5, Tyrone Avenue Waterford, Lismore lawn. Rep. of Ireland.
Co-ordinator; Bernie Barrett Ph. No: 00-353 (0)51-373876. Mobile number: 087-9394096
Oscar and Oisin, Our Two Adorable Cubs
|Picture © Andrew Kelly|
British research challenges Ireland’s “ruthless” badger cull
Ireland’s policy of snaring thousands of badgers to control bovine TB in
cattle is today challenged by the publication of ten years’ and €50
million-worth of detailed scientific research in Great Britain.
Notes to editors:
For further comment from Badgerwatch Ireland, contact Bernie Barrett on 051 373876 or 087-939394096.
For comment from the Badger Trust, contact Trevor Lawson on 00 44 (0) 7976 262388.
1. Bourne, J. et al (2007), Bovine TB: The Scientific Evidence - A Science Base for a Sustainable Policy to Control TB in Cattle; An Epidemiological Investigation into Bovine Tuberculosis, Final Report of the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB Defra, London. The report will be available online on Monday 18 June from 09.30am, at
2. Ireland’s Bloody Shame, available online at http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/13_S4.pdf
The final ISG report – control of cattle TB control
Badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to
cattle TB control in Britain, the Government’s Independent Scientific
Group (ISG) on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) said, in its final report 
which has been welcomed by the Badger Trust. Instead, the scientists
advise that: [bTB] can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by
the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone.
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
Science chief urges badger cull
|By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News
The UK government's chief scientist advised ministers that badgers should be killed to prevent the spread of TB among cattle, the BBC has learned. Sir David King's report appears to contradict a previous study that said culling badgers would be ineffective in controlling the spread of the disease.
The Independent Scientific Group found that targeting one site would only cause badgers to flee to other farms. The National Farmers' Union said a cull was necessary to curb TB in cattle. Figures from the union suggest the number of cases of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) had risen by as much as 18% in the past year, to nearly 2,500.
The independent group's (ISG) findings, published in June, said that badgers did play a role in the spread of bTB, but it warned that the culling would have to be so extensive it would be uneconomical.
BADGER CULL TRIALS
30 areas of the country, each 100square km
10 culled proactively, 10 reactively, 10 not culled. Badgers culled through being caught in a cage and then shot. Incidence of bovine TB measured on farms inside and outside culling areas. Reactive culling suspended in 2003 after significant rise in infection. Trial cost £7m per year.
Professor John Bourne, author of the ISG report, said there were "great inconsistencies" in Sir David's own study.
"There are a number of issues which need to be discussed further and we would welcome the opportunity," he told the BBC. "We are surprised that opportunity hasn't been taken before now. The report was prepared very quickly following the publication of our own report in June."
He said Sir David's recommendations were not consistent with the scientific findings of his report but were "consistent with the political need to do something about it".
"If you wish to go down the culling route, you have to do what the Irish are doing in large parts of their country and that is eliminate," he added.
"Our findings show that if you don't want to go that far, then culling badgers will be counterproductive." The ISG assessed the results of a nine year experiment to discover whether killing badgers would stem the spread of disease.
It found that although TB infection dropped in the immediate area of the cull, it increased on adjoining farms, effectively shifting rather than solving the problem.
But Sir David King has concluded that culling could be effective if the culling was in areas that are contained, for example, by the sea or motorways.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it welcomed Sir David's report and would consider its recommendations.
While most cattle farmers were likely to support a cull, it would prove unpopular with the public. A government consultation of more than 47,000 people found that more than 95% of people were opposed to the idea.
Ministers are currently deciding whether to introduce badger culling as a way to prevent the spread of TB among cattle.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/10/22 16:06:01 GMT
© BBC MMVII
|The Badger Trust today ridiculed Prof
David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the government for recommending
badger culling to control bovine TB in cattle. The recommendation comes
without any consideration of the cost involved which makes a mockery the
entire policy .
The Badger Trust is also shocked that this review was conducted in secret and involved advice from the Republic of Ireland where 30 years of badger culling have left Eire with twice the level of bTB in the national herd compared to that found in Great Britain. 
Trevor Lawson public affairs advisor to Badger Trust commented: " Prof King's list of recommendations repeat virtually word for word the opinions of farming unions and the cull mad vets in Defra. This is a highly-politicised rush to judgment, which, ludicrously, contains no cost benefit analysis.
"Prof King says his aim is to control bTB in cattle but he ignores the fact that this can be achieved by improving the cattle testing regime. The science shows that cattle are the primary source of infection for both each other and for badgers but this is of no interest to Prof King. His shallow report amounts to a shamelessly one sided examination of the problem."
The Badger Trust points out that Prof King's advice contradicts:
- the advice of Prof Sir John Krebs who recently told Lord Rooker, Animal Health Minister, that there was "no wriggle room on bovine TB policy and that badger culling was not viable; 
- the advice of Defra Science Advisory Council who for two years have accepted the scientific research first published in 2005 and concluded that badger culling should not be considered until all possible cattle measures had been implemented successfully and in full. 
The Independent Scientific Group advises that TB can be rapidly reversed and brought under control by improving the cattle testing regime which currently misses around 1in 3 infected cattle leaving them to infect other cattle in the herd.
London: Dr Richard Yarnell, Badger Trust, chief executive M: 07884 263579
Cornwall: Trevor Lawson, Badger Trust, media advisor M: 07976 262388
Notes to Editors:
1. www.diu.gov.uk/publications.html Bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badgers: a report by the chief scientific adviser, Sir David King. 22 October, 2007
2 http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/12_S4.pdf' Ireland's bloody shame'
3. Krebs, J. House of Lords debate, Hansard 26 July 2007 : Column 906 www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70726-0001.htm
4. [SAC-TB (05) 4 Final report: Independent review of research on bovine tuberculosis]
OSCAR AND OISIN
|April 24th phone rang this am. Lady
related the story about two tiny badger cubs in her garden. Mother
missing since 7.30 am the previous morning. The sett was on a slight
incline and when the cubs managed (somehow) to crawl to surface, they
rolled down the hill into her garden. To complicate matters further, the
call came from County Louth, a long way from Waterford. Help was needed
and very quickly at that.
Several phone calls later and no commitment of help, including NPWS. Last chance, ring the Irish Seal Sanctuary at north County Dublin. In no time a van with Therese at the wheel was heading up to Louth. On their arrival back at the Sanctuary, the cubs were given fluids. We met Sanctuary driver number two, Ollie, at Castledermot and we took the cubs and headed back to Waterford. Sincere thanks to Emma Higgs and her crew, Ollie and Therese for undertaking the rescue operation. Without their speedy intervention the cubs almost certainly would have died.
Because they were so young and tiny it was urgent to quickly commence them on their new regime of bottle feeding. Luckily a spare tin of Lactol was in the cupboard. It remains our first choice of feed for orphaned youngsters. Both cubs were strong and took to their bottles. They were fed 2-3 hourly including through the night. As with most badger cubs, they had a fine healthy pair of lungs, which they exercised with enthusiasm through the small hours. As before, the eventual task of weaning badgers from beloved bottle was not an easy one. Sausages once more to the rescue!
It was a busy summer with two robust youngsters on site. Like all young, jealousy and vying for attention (from human mum) was the order of the day. Mid-summer’s (magical) night was spent surveying them from bedroom window as they perfected the art of digging holes all over the place. Straw would be hauled backwards into the kennel it became apparent during operations that one cub worked tirelessly while twin number two avoided most badgery tasks.
It remained that way. One was dominant while brother was content to take it very, very easy. Identical in appearance, they were two totally different personalities. Identification itself had been easy in the beginning. I had resorted to old trick of dabbing a bit of nail varnish behind ear of one cub. In latter weeks this was impossible due to utter lack of co-operation from the two and even when it was possible, nothing seem to stick anymore – enter the Teflon twins!
Knowing how badgers love water, I had filled a baby bath nightly for them but it was ignored. It was not until they were almost fully grown that they even acknowledged its presence. Ever after it became a vital part of the evening’s routine. Great attention would be given to these nightly ablutions and scrubbing up became a serious business. Unfortunately, almost immediately afterwards, both badgers went straight to the tasks of digging and worming. Sometimes and only sometimes, second dips were on the agenda.
|One of the wettest summers yet, had
reduced garden to mud. Shrubs that survived the nightly forage were put
into tubs and moved to the front garden where they might just survive.
Grass eventually vanished. Then, the great friendship emerged with two
of next door neighbour’s terriers. Much wagging of tail-stumps could be
seen when both parties communicated through the fencing. The terriers
for their part would be heard whimpering when the badgers were not
around. This friendship continued for the duration.
October came and it was time to return the cubs back to the wild. They were now about seven - eight months old and weighted about 2st.4lb. We were lucky. We had an excellent release site further north where they would be allowed to become accustomed to the locality and in due course, choose their own departure. I can only hope that they may enjoy two or with a bit of luck, three years in the wild. I know that within that time span my badgers will almost certainly die a violent death. They may be snared, either legally or illegally, shot, lamped, poisoned, taken for badger-baiting or killed on our roadways. That remains the unhappy lot of Ireland’s so-called protected species. Few, if any badgers die of old age in the sanctuary of their setts. I am once again privileged to have enjoyed their company, their deep friendship and the trust that most humans sadly will never know.