Posts Tagged ‘BVA’

There’s been a whole host of new information appearing in the public domain over the last week or so regarding the Badger Cull and some is certainly concerning while the rest only goes further in destroying the Government’s argument in justifying the slaughter of our wildlife. First off we have a member of the Government appointed Independent Expert Panel speaking out and accusing ministers of “an abuse” of the scientific process and “wilfully” ignoring the advice of its own scientific advisors. It’s hardly surprising that Professor Timothy Coulson, a zoologist based at the University of Oxford felt the need to criticise Defra and Owen Paterson in this manner. What is the point in employing the experts in the field and then ignoring the results when they don’t comply with the Government agenda or give them justification for their actions? A classic case of Paterson employing policy-driven evidence, rather than evidence-driven policy.

He continues: “I am tempted to speculate that the Government no longer wants to know whether the pilots are effective or humane. They just want to cull badgers, regardless of whether the population or humaneness consequences can be assessed.”

I doubt many of you reading this blog would be surprised by the stance of Paterson and Defra, they’ve consistently ignored all the previous scientific data while constantly justifying themselves with the standard list of misquoted facts and downright lies.

Timothy Coulson

Timothy Coulson

Professor Coulson warns: “If the methods Defra are thought to be considering are used in place of those applied last year, it would be like starting a surgical procedure with a scalpel and forceps and finishing it with a garden spade and axe.” The changes amount to “an abuse of the scientific method”, according to the academic. “If culling worked I’d be fully supportive of them rolling it out, but all the evidence is that it does not.”

Of course Defra maintain they are indeed making changes for the future pilots and will charge Natural England with all the monitoring to ensure best practice guidelines are maintained, however that’s like asking a pack of hungry dogs to guard a big pile of juicy bones. Only independent monitoring can be considered impartial and as we’ve seen from the debacle last year the NFU instructed its operatives to ignore best practice in an effort to increase the kill rate.

Even the British Veterinary Association, traditionally a pro cull organisation despite supposedly having the best interest of animals at heart (they’re slaves to their big livestock contracts) are now starting to ask Defra some awkward questions. I think it’s about time they stood up for animal welfare once and for all and admitted they were wrong all along, in the eyes of the public this has been a PR disaster for them and withdrawing support now will give them a small amount of credibility back.

Patsy

Another reason the BVA are getting twitchy is the news that Defra will allow the use of shotguns when (and if) the pilots resume. This is indeed a worrying development. Shotguns are a wholly unsuitable firearm for the purpose. They have short rage, low penetration and stopping power. What they do give is a good chance of a hit, however these are likely to be either non-lethal or lethal over a duration of time which would make the term “humane” non-existent. We constantly heard the term “marksmen” being used when referring to the cull contractors but we’ve all seen how accurate they really were and marksmen they certainly were not. Still, no need to be accurate when you’ve got the shot spread of a barn door. Not only that but our countryside is awash with shotgun owners with suitable licenses, this is Defra declaring open season on poor old Mr Brock meaning anyone with a pair of wellies and a flat cap can go for a walk at night with their shotgun and bag a few badgers.

Finally, one of Paterson’s favourite quotes is to declare that no other nation has solved the bTB problem without addressing the wildlife reservoir. He’ll often quote New Zealand as a prime example. Well apart from the difference between of a protected native species and an invasive one and the obvious differences in habitat and ecology it now seems that the possum is not responsible for the spread of bTB in New Zealand and it is in fact down to, wait for it . . . the movement of infected cattle and the overall inaccuracy of the testing. So, is it just me or does this sound familiar?

Latest News: A glimmer of hope?

Defra Minister George Eustice brings together Badger Trust, NFU, BVA, CLA, NT, Save Me, IFAW, HSI, Wildlife Trusts & RSPCA to support badger vaccination.

I’m not wholly convinced by badger vaccination. It implies that the badgers are the problem when we all know that isn’t the case and it also plays into the hands of those who wish to demonize them, however vaccination is certainly preferable to a bullet or cartridge of 12 gauge shot. However these initiatives are largely aimed at the areas bordering the culls zones and not as a replacement for culling. It would seem direct action will be required once again.

Wildlife not Vermin

 

We’re making some progress in raising funds for a vehicle which will enable us to be suitably active in both cull zones and when the hunting season starts. The vehicle is being purchased from a sisted sab group so the money raised will go straight back in the pot for saving more wildlife. Please help if you can. Click here to donate.

 

So while we await any further updates on the continuation of the culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire and the legal challenge from the Badger Trust we’re left to ponder the news that no independent monitoring will take place if and when the guns start firing again. This information came to light during Parliamentary questions where Shadow Environment Minister, Maria Eagle challenged George Eustice on the subject.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to ask the Independent Expert Panel which recently reported on the first year of the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire to report on the second year of such culls”.

The response is simple and shocking.

“I have no plans to ask the Independent Expert Panel to report on the second year of the pilot badger culls in Somerset and Gloucestershire”. 

In light of the scathing report which came from the IEP and even with the lack of data they received I guess it should come as no surprise that the Government really don’t want to be told time and again that what they’re doing is, apart from hugely unpopular both inhumane and ineffective and that’s not even bringing the simple subject of cost into the equation.

Maria Eagles again: “What do the Tories do if they don’t like the independent scientific advice they get? Stop asking for advice”.

So where does this leave Owen Paterson and the Government?

Paterson with his chums at the CA

Paterson with his chums at the CA

They’re clearly in full retreat and searching for an exit strategy that allows them some sort of face saving exercise, however their masters in the NFU are still on the PR offensive and if the pathetic attempts both on social media and in the press are to be believed then the beleaguered Badger is responsible for the reduction in pretty much every native UK species and pot holes in the road too. This is of course complete nonsense; Hares, Hedgehogs and ground nesting birds are in serious decline but the reasons are simple, the industrialisation of modern farming methods means a lack of both food and suitable habitat for the birds and Hares while the combination of fenced gardens and slug pellets for Hedgehogs is very bad news. However this continued attempt to mislead the public shows that the NFU are still hell bent on removing Badgers from their land and will not let up on the pressure piled on Paterson now their justification which was Bovine TB has been shown to be solvable via other more environmental methods.

With the NFU and Countryside Alliance pressure on one side and pretty much all of the scientific community and Joe public on the other there is no way for Paterson to come out of this without being covered in the muck spread from his own bullshit machine. Even the BVA, an organisation deeply entrenched in the farming industry is starting to distance itself from the policy although as guardians of animal welfare they should jumped from that particular fence a long time ago. The decision to continue the pointless slaughter in the South West was clearly the best he could do in the circumstances. They realise that a further term in office is unlikely so claiming the wider roll-out has merely been delayed is either a show of unbelievable arrogance or an empty promise, one they’ll never have to fulfill. However while attempting to save face he’s just shown a complete lack of spine and pleased neither camp. He’s being criticized by the pro-cull lobby for not rolling out further and by the environmentalists and the public for not stopping it altogether. The man really is a weapons grade arse and the sooner he fades like a bad dream into history then the better for all concerned.

So what about the lack of monitoring?

A question via Twitter from Mr_TB Free with regards to this and the answer from Defra left us in no doubt there would be trouble ahead.

tweet

I almost coughed up my cup of tea when reading that one. From the outset last autumn it was clear the license conditions were being openly flouted unless an independent monitor was present and now further information has come to light that the NFU instructed its contractors to ignore the best practice guidelines in the effort to kill more animals with complete disregard for the safety of both themselves, the protesters in the field and the welfare of the animals being targeted. Now, further down the line it seems a green light has been given to kill in any means possible with no apparent repercussions. The possible nightmare of free roaming Badger killers shooting wildly at night makes the potential for conflict with protesters, accidents or even worse extremely high. There is no way the police will be able to keep control of the situation regardless of the number of officers they deploy. With contractors just as eager to avoid contact with the police as the sabs I have no doubt this whole situation will be a recipe for disaster.

We can only hope this whole messy situation doesn’t get that far but at least (if you’ve been reading this blog) you’ll be prepared if it does. See you in the fields.