Posts Tagged ‘south yorkshire badger group’

What’s going on in South Yorkshire? Keep on badgering ….

February 17, 2015

Looks like this Saturday, that is to say 21 February is going to be a busy day, the Badger Trust have an event in Birmingham where

Wildlife crime, cruel sports and unscientific wildlife culls will be top of the agenda at the second Birmingham Wildlife Festival and Badger March, which expects to greet more than 2000 people on Saturday 21st February.

A day of entertainment and field-craft workshops will also feature speeches from conservationist and comedian Bill Oddie OBE and key wildlife groups. A peaceful anti-badger cull protest march, the second to be held in Birmingham and the 28th ‘Badger Army’ protest against the government’s badger culling policy, will form part of the event.  For more detail click on the link above.

Badger & mayweed

The other more local event, organised by the Sorby NHS and one to which we hope to see readers is the Sixth South Yorkshire Natural History Day …. What’s going on in South Yorkshire?  Come along and find out.  Thus far there are a dozen talks scheduled and the programme includes the first of The Frank Botterill Memorial Lectures: The History of Moth Recording in South Yorkshire to be given by Harry Beaumont.  

There is also an opportunity to view and purchase some of the artwork by Paul Caton and others on sale in support of the South Yorkshire Badger Group.  The group do excellent work and deserve our support, as does poor beleagured brock.

Treeton Miners Welfare Club, Arundel Street, Treeton, S60 5PW.    10.30am – 16.30pm

Stands and displays and excellent networking opportunities for amateur naturalists, we hope to see you there. 

Come along and bag a bargain from our publication offers.

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‘Moor’ badgering away …. A Guest Blog Post

August 27, 2014

 

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Monica Ward, Chairperson of the South Yorkshire Badger Group provides an analysis of the recent BBC Countryfile programme of Sunday 24 August 2014 in which featured a piece on the planned cull of badgers and the issue of gassing as an alternative method.  This Guest Blog Post is provided by Monica, a tenacious defender of the iconic brock, and is drawn from many years of campaigning for their protection as well as an effective solution to the controversial topic of badger culls.

 

Although the programme on bovine TB was more balanced than in some previous programmes, there was one important statement made that was misleading.

It is true that the incidence of TB in cattle was brought down to below 1,000 cases from 1951 to 1960 which was due to the introduction by the Government of the Area Eradication Plan, where cattle were tested annually and slaughtered if found to have bTB.

In the programme it was stated that badgers were gassed in their setts during that time. This is not true. There was no mention of badgers having bTB until 1971, so the incidence of TB in cattle during that time was brought down by cattle based measures alone.

Because the incidence of TB in cattle did not significantly drop any further, it was suggested that the reason was due to the presence of badgers re-infecting the herd and that is why the gassing badgers in their setts began. The worst area for bTB in cattle was the South West so that is where most of the gassing of badgers was carried out.

Cattle continued to be tested annually until 1990 but the level of bTB remained more or less level. Gassing badgers certainly made little or no difference.

More recently it is understood that bTB can remain in the herd after it has passed the TB tests, partly because it has not been picked up by the TB tests which are not 100% reliable. Also, at the very early stages of the disease it is not always diagnosed, and so the animal remains in the herd and the disease develops until it reaches the infectious stage, thus infecting the herd.

Historically, the major mistake made was for annual testing of all cattle to be discontinued from 1990. Incidents of bTB have risen because of this and because of interruptions to testing due to such factors as vets being too busy to test cattle during the BSE crisis and Foot and Mouth epidemic.

It is a sad reflection on the present situation that some farmers are reluctant or cannot afford to spend money on annual testing.  Surely, Government money would be better spent on testing cattle annually rather than spending huge sums on culling badgers.

 

Badger & mayweed

 

 

Postscript

A particularly useful paper which Monica has drawn our attention to ism

THE ERADICATION OF BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS IN GREAT BRITAIN by W D Macrae, MRCVS, DVSM

One has to wonder why when the Welsh have managed around a 50% reduction in bTB incidences why Defra will not adopt and implement a similar programme?  Why is it that  badgers still appear to be the scapegoat for poor biosecurity?  When the countryside was suffering from Foot and Mouth and the BSE crisis, livestock movement was restricted and what was the level of bTB at these times?

Keep on ‘badgering’ …. DEFRA found to be acting outwith the public interest?

August 6, 2014

We are pleased to be able to update readers of the latest in the long running saga of badger culling, we are grateful to the Badger Trust and South Yorkshire Badger Group for sharing this with us.

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Public interest found to be in favour of disclosure of secret badger cull policy documents

On 31st July 2014 the Upper Tribunal held that it was “not persuaded” by DEFRA’s justifications for withholding key badger culling policy documents.

In May 2012, the Badger Trust requested documents relating to the controversial development of the Government’s badger cull policy in 2010. Unknown to the Badger Trust, these documents related to the involvement of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) on a secret project board set up to explore essential aspects of the Government’s policy. DEFRA refused to disclose the Risk and Issue Logs (RILs), which demonstrate the project board’s hidden assessment of the risks associated with developing a farmer-led badger cull prior to the Minister’s decision on introducing the policy.

In June 2013, the Information Commissioner ordered DEFRA to disclose the RILs, finding that the public interest test favoured disclosure. DEFRA appealed to the First-tier Tribunal. The case was exceptionally transferred directly to the Upper Tribunal where it was vigorously defended by the Information Commissioner together with the Badger Trust.

Following two days of evidence and submissions at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the Tribunal indicated that it was unconvinced by any of DEFRA’s public interest arguments to justify withholding the RILs. Full judgment will be handed down in due course. There will also be a further hearing around late October 2014 to address important wider issues to clarify the legal exceptions relied on by DEFRA to keep the Board’s assessment of the risks under wraps.

This places the Badger Trust at the forefront of potentially ground-breaking developments in environmental information law, which will assist other NGOs like themselves to ensure greater transparency and scrutiny of controversial environmental decision-making within Government.

Jeff Hayden, Financial Director and the Trust’s lead on judicial challenge, who attended the two-day hearing, said:
“The Badger Trust was unremitting and determined in challenging DEFRA’s refusal and today’s finding is a complete vindication for all its hard-work. Our legal advisors, Bindmans LLP, have again proved an invaluable partner in our battle to protect badgers. We deeply regret that we have been unable to save the 1,861 that were slaughtered in the 2013 trials.”

Dominic Dyer, CEO of Badger Trust and Policy Adviser Care For The Wild, said:
“This is another important step forward in the Badger Trust’s on-going legal challenge to show that it is cattle, not badgers, that are at the root of the spread of bovine TB. Although the written judgment is awaited, the Tribunal Chairman, Mr Justice Charles, made it quite clear that DEFRA had not been justified in withholding these documents from the Badger Trust in 2012.”

Badger & mayweed

 

The moral of the story: when you know the cause is just then just keep on badgering and trust that the truth will out and become available for public scrutiny to the public who funded it in the first place.

The Farmers Weekly, a much read rural publication have also been forced to admit that a photograph they have often used was not one taken in the wild, but 25 years ago at a wildlife sanctuary and the activity it captured was highly unlikely ever to happen in the wild.   The complaint was upheld by the PCC, see here and here  

Another piece of pleasing news is that following a presentation made by SYBG, Doncaster MBC have agreed not to allow any badgers to be culled on local authority owned land, well done DMBC!  Sheffield CCwere the first to declare without any prompting, decisions are still awaited from Barnsley MBC and Rotherham MBC.  So any readers living in those boroughs might like to contact their local councillors and ask them to examine the science and guage the public mood for culling badgers perhaps?

Warning: the clip shown through the BRAVE website here is deeply distressing but the message still needs to be sent to Cameron and the continued unscientific, inhumane and barbaric blame mongers who obstinately refuse to listen to science, rationale reason and the public.  Disturbingly Paterson’s replacement Liz Truss has made it clear that she intends the cull programme to continue, a move swiftly lamented bt the oppossition.  In her first session at the dispatch box 48 hours after being appointed to Cabinet explained that after speaking with Defra scientific advisers she had decided to progress with the Government’s two culling pilots this autumn …. if readers are minded to write to Ms Truss then contact details can be found here (sadly they are via the Defra gate, but critical mass can be convincing).  Perhaps a timely reminder with just 273 days left to the next general election that Mr Cameron might like to receive correspondence about his ConDem environmental conservation performance ….

 

‘moor’ badgering …. conservation campaigning epetitions ….

February 27, 2014

Well done to John Armitage who has secured sufficient signatures to ensure that he receives a response to his call for Licensing of upland grouse moorsMark Avery did an excellent analysis of his achievement in terms of conservationists lobbying Defra.

South Yorkshire Badger Group have recently alerted us to three other epetitions readers might consider signing.  Under new rules Local Authorities run their own petition schemes and as with central Government, Local Councils are obliged to debate the issue.  So, the petition(s) requests the three councils below to declare that they will not allow badgers to be culled on council land, and instead will agree to badger vaccination. This has the potential to seriously affect  the Government’s cull policy, and to emphasise further the degree of anti-cull feeling.

Badger & mayweedBadger by Tatterdemalion.   Image courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons license.

Doncaster MBC’s  epetition ends 3 April 2014, so anyone living within the LA area please consider signing and spreading the word.  30 signatures so far.

Barnsley MBC’s epetition has until 31 May 2014 to run, so same comment applies to this LA area residents who read the blog.  44 supporters thus far.

Rotherham MBC epetition runs until 17 May 2014, their website informs us that if this petition reaches 9 signatures an officer will investigate the matter, so well done Rotherham MBC … we look forward to learning of the outcome, in the interim I’m sure there are more than 9 people living in the Rotherham area who care about badgers?  19 have already given their support.

So, collectively can we send a clear message to these Local Authorities about how local tax payers and voters feel about wildlife?

Sheffield City Council get a Gold Star because without any prompting the council has already declared they will not allow badger culling on public land.

As yet I’ve not managed to locate how many ‘signatures’ are required to cause two of the Councils above to debate the petition, but I hope you’ll agree that given the short window left it’s important to get the message out there.  I’m sure someone will locate the threshold requirement and let me know.

 

Badgering away ….

February 23, 2014

The weather was pleasant, the kind of weather you feel like rambling around the moors.  But, a gathering was calling …. what is the collective noun for a group of naturalists?  In the interim of discovering the noun, a distinguished collection had gathered for Sorby Natural History Society’s fifth South Yorkshire Natural History Day.  We set up the Forum’s display – I have to say the new roller banners look great but the invertebrate exhibits that Peter and Paul brought along go a long way to evidencing what science the Forum has been undertaking.

There was a crammed programme of talks, all the kind that leave you feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what you’d really like to do.  Garden acculeate hymenoptera, which illustrated opportunities which might exist on your doorstep.  Odonata target species towards the atlas in prepThe state of scientific collecting in Yorkshire was an interesting presentation following analysis of a survey undertaken amongst Sorby NHS members.  Somehow it fell flat for me and that was in no way down to the speaker who was quite rightly a justified enthusiast for the practice of collections and voucher material accompanied by accurate data.  Is it a sign of age when experience acknowledges that the area where you live (or rather pay Council Tax to) has no real interest or enthusiasm for its Museum service?  Doncaster Museum for example houses some significant collections including George Hyde’s substantive series of Large Heath Butterflies.

The real passion verging on understandable anger came from the South Yorkshire Badger Group’s speaker who provided an update on the ‘badger debacle’.  You only have to look back over the last four decades or so to realise what started out as a disease of cattle has now been media managed by the agri-industry to become a badger problem.

Badger & mayweed

Badger by Tatterdemalion.   Image courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons license.

It seems astonishing that it is the country’s badger groups who are funding vaccination programmes in hot spot areas.  Owen Paterson prefers a cull despite the fact that the Kreb’s trial tested some 11,000 badgers and found that only 166 animals were infected.  I reckon my calculator must be dodgy because it makes that 1.5% of a pretty significant sample!  What more recent independent science had been commissioned?  David Miliband commissioned the following: 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 Presented to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, June 2007

An interesting quote by Professor John Bourne (Chair of Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bovine TB) who said “I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician who said ‘fine John, we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot.  And the only possible carrot we can give them is culling badgers’. 

When you start researching the various arguments it is absolutely astonishing to discover the facts and the fiction.  How many readers are aware of which way their MPs voted, for or against the cull?  When did the incidence begin to reach the plague proportions we hear reported in the media, why did poor ‘Brock’ become the scapegoat?  I can offer no better background reading than ‘Badgerlands’ a well researched book by Patrick Barkham (also author of The Butterfly Isles).  The book takes the reader through the centuries and mans relationship with the badger.  Barkham explores and appreciates the complexities faced by farmers whose livelihoods are impacted by the disease but equally he delves into the politics of the problem and here you sense frustration.  Barkham’s style is enthusiastic and infectious at times and if it achieves readers actively engaging in the debate then that is an added bonus.

Brian May championed the call to the Coalition Government to rethink the cull, that petition is now closed having reached a staggeering 300,000+ signatures which requires a response from the Backbench Business Committee (BBC).  Mmmh, call me a sceptic (although I’d prefer realist) but I shan’t be holding my breath for anything positively proactive or pragmatic from many of the incumbents in the Westminster penthouse.  But at least that action sparked a chain reaction which has seen groups work collaboratively and that is people power promoting change, let’s have ‘moor’?  Team Badger for example is an interesting mix who champion the case for that crepuscular and enigmatic black and white icon of the British countryside.  It supports vaccination as an alternative to culling.  According to the tbfreeengland website 213,799 cattle have been slaughtered since 1 January 2008, from 8 million animals tested, that represents 2.67% of the test sample which was a considerably larger sample than that of the Kreb’s trial.

If the Wildlife Trusts and Badger Groups are funding vaccinations in hotspots why haven’t the NFU assisted?  Damien Carrington’s Environment Blog reports on an interesting NFU approach to opposition.

Katy Brown writes for Ethical Consumer magazine and asks “Why are the supermarkets keeping so schtum about the badger cull?”

Surely, it is not beyond the wit of man if there is a will there is a way forward?  We can fly a man to the moon, why have successive Governments failed to find a scientific solution to this disease?  But, whilst this is not a new problem clearly it does need a new approach.  Dump the polarised views, the black and white exremes and collectively collaborate?  Now that really would be something?   If we subscribe to the view that we all share this planet and it is on loan from future generations, the we need to leave it rich in wildlife not depleat ….

Rethink the badger cull is an epetition still running by 38 degrees.  See also Petition against badger cull.  Another HM Government epetition, initiated by Nigel Ross is still running here.  It runs until 09/09/2014 and currently stands at 7,618 signatures.  It needs a bit of help to reach the required 10,000 to ensure that the Government’s BBC discuss it!

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

Quintisentially a charismatic character of the British countryside, but also if you’re lucky a garden visitor!  Image: Tim Melling.

‘Moor’ about badgers ….

September 1, 2013

Sorry to keep ‘badgering’ you about negative issues, let’s face it we hear so many positive ones that I really should learn to set aside (ooops, no pun intended) a few bits of bad news?  Can you forgive another batch of BADGER related ramblings?

Here’s the delightful face of those wonderful black and white beasts, the quintessential mammal of the English countryside :

 

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Here’s the other side of the coin, the cruelty illegally inflicted by those who see badgers as vermin and a threat to their business:

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

 

Bad enough the image above but, there’s now ‘legalised’ murder going on as I write this post, the cull sanctioned by Government is underway and being conducted in Wales.

Badgergate is well worth a read, there are some interesting facts to consider as well as suggestions as to how you can help, who and where to write to and possible pointers as to what you might include.  I appreciate that there are some who hold views that ‘mass protest’ outwith an imminent election is not effective, but to claim that this is a trial and there is no intention to test the shot badgers for bTB!  How do they claim any credibility for that lack of science?  Badgergate is to be applauded, their strapline of “Bovine TB: facts, fantasy & politics” sums up quite eruditely the situation in my view.

Whilst you’d like to be able to trust Government, I struggle to understand what they have based this decision on.  The Krebs report analyses data from the UK 1973 – 2007, so why do they look abroad for support?  Why have successive governments failed to implement a vaccination programme in areas of high risk?  Why have the NFU and their counterparts not supported this, why have they not funded independent science?

If any of you watched the recent BBC2 series “The Burrowers: Animals Underground” you would have gained a fascinating insight into the research by Chris Cheesman, someone who had over 35 years studied badgers and still as a result of this programme learnt new facts about the species.  His view is well worth the few minutes you need to read it here.  In fact I’d say if you’re only able to read one of the links here in today’s post then this one by Dr Cheesman has to be it!

Another well made selection of points can be found on Steve Backshall’s Facebook page, whilst I don’t do ‘social media’ I do recognise that it can be effective communication.  In case you are not familiar with the gentleman he’s the television presenter well known for programmes such as ‘Live and Deadly’.

A totally random thought but I just wonder how the 635 MPs would react if all their constuituents regularly twittered, tweeted or facebooked them about the badger cull?  Even if just say 10% did then surely it would create a reaction?  In fact, I reckon if just 1% did then that would have them a tad worried I suspect …. Likewise the various PR companies employed by government departments, or the NGO hierarchies?  Reality kicks back in ….  and along with it I am reminded of the apathy and lethargy demonstrated by the public over hen harriers etc.  However, Brian May’s petition creeps up and it is after all on a Government epetition website!  Just in case you need a reminder it can be accessed here.    291,126 as I ramble – come on let’s help it to 300,000!  Voices for nature where are you all?

What do other people think about this mass murder I wonder, Iolo Williams surely he has something to say about the subject?  Excellent, he has and so do quite a few other ‘celebs’ Chris Packham, Simon King, David Attenborough et. al.  Chris Packham also warns of potential consequences of direct action (his skit, see earlier link, at the Welsh tourism board or variant was noted though on the savethebadger.com website).

Is there a solution that all parties can sign up to?  Sadly, I doubt it.  There are vociferous advocates on both sides of the argument, that’s democracy but I do so love ‘Ralph’s’ definition on Mark Avery’s blog, it just sums up the politics to a tee!  Logic requires that science must surely have a key role in any analysis and eventual decision?  That science must similarly be conducted and evaluated independently?  Then if there is dissent and the public purse is to fund any action, then reasoned logic and dare I offer democracy requires that the public have a say?

Oh dear, if that were the case then STOP & RETHINK  Open Access on National Nature Reserves too might be a ‘moor’ open and transparent discussion?

Images courtesy of the South Yorkshire Badger Group.   

 


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