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    diafol 3,720   4 Years Ago

    >I'm fed up to the back teeth with farmers claiming to care for their cattle, when all they really care about it the bottom line. I think that's a bit harsh HG, although it is their livelihood, so obviously the bottom line is important. I don't think it follows to … Read More

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how many badgers are there, what's their density, etc.?
It's nice to say you're against something, but I've seen the result of blanket bans on culling certain species of wildlife and it's not pretty.

Here it's wild boars. They're running rampant, destroying entire forests with their digging and foraging, breeding out of control, and causing a large number of traffic accidents. People have even been attacked by them in their own gardens in towns and cities.

Without natural non-human predators (which were hunted to extinction centuries ago) hunting by humans is the only way to keep their population under control, until they destroy their living environment to the point where disease and malnutrition do the job (at which point "animal conservationists" will step in and start feeding them food laced with medication, delaying the inevitable).

Our countries are too small, the natural habitats of larger wild animals too fractured, to support a complete ecosystem up to and including top predators like wolves and bears in sufficient numbers to be self-sufficient.
And the UK has it worse, as there's no way for those top predators to travel to areas in other countries that might be linked in some way (as is the case in the old forests along say the German and Polish borders now that the iron curtain with its electrified fences and minefields has been largely removed).

Ergo, some level of culling may well be required to keep the remaining population balanced, hard though it may be to swallow for animal lovers (and don't get me wrong, I love animals, and not just cooked or grilled on my dinnerplate).

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I will be at the National March Against the Badger Cull in London this Saturday (1st June)

I never heard of a badger til now. I hope you enjoy the long walk and it's a good cause!

Ergo, some level of culling may well be required to keep the remaining population balanced, hard though it may be to swallow for animal lovers (and don't get me wrong, I love animals, and not just cooked or grilled on my dinnerplate).

I didn't know people eat these badgers. I always thought it's their fur that hunters are after not the meat. But people eat badgers in UK? I didn't know that.

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The badger cull is, supposedly, to control the spread of bovine TB in cows. However, the scientific evidence simply does not support the assertion that badgers are the primary carrier/spreader of btb or, indeed, that a cull would in any way be successful in stopping the spread of the disease in cattle. The UK Government commissioned a scientific assessment of a badger cull, the scientists reported back that it wouldn;t work and that vaccination was the way forward, so the Government chose to ignore that report and press ahead anyway. One of the scientific advisors involved has reported that a senior government minister told him that they 'had to throw the farmers a carrot, and badgers are that carrot'. Nice.

As for the 'culling may be required to control population' argument, that is a typical speciest viewpoint. Persoanlly, I'm in favour of mother nature doing whatever the feck she wants and if that causes man a few problems so what?

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Governments always want to keep their hands firmly clasped in hands holding cash to support their party. The Conservative Party, the current government, (with some Liberals in tow) get a lot of support from farmers. The Party also get good financial support from the big land owners, some being high ranking members of the Conservative Party if not in the cabinet.

Fox Hunting was banned while the Labour Party were in Government, and as I'm sure you would logically conclude they get their cash and support from elsewhere, Unions and very rich so-called underdogs.

If the Government want the policy to cull quashed they will need to play the clean hands "We were on your side guys, but there were just too many against us" tactic. Generally speaking, if the Government wanted something badly enough they would find a way. By the fact that this protest is taking place, and the scientific evidence has been allowed out without its credibility discoloured or ambiguously flavoured, it looks to me that there won't be a cull after all. The Government are managing the probability of failure to stack against a cull to score some populist credibility (which they sorely need at the moment) and still be able to say to their Cash Cows, "We tried!" Masterful Machiavellians the lot of 'em. :-)

But, then again, I could be completely wrong. :-O

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The badger cull is, supposedly, to control the spread of bovine TB in cows. However, the scientific evidence simply does not support the assertion that badgers are the primary carrier/spreader of btb or, indeed, that a cull would in any way be successful in stopping the spread of the disease in cattle. The UK Government commissioned a scientific assessment of a badger cull, the scientists reported back that it wouldn;t work and that vaccination was the way forward, so the Government chose to ignore that report and press ahead anyway. One of the scientific advisors involved has reported that a senior government minister told him that they 'had to throw the farmers a carrot, and badgers are that carrot'. Nice.

I didn't know that but it's good to know. This is a good cause.

Since you walking you might as well listen to the Lion Tour while walking.

I mean I don't know how long it will be but is should past some time.

Edited by LastMitch

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I was watching a fascinating documentary about the Deer (or similar animal) of Yellowstone National Park. They grew into vast numbers and roamed wherever they wanted. Just as jwenting said, they were damaging the growth of Saplings, riverbanks, and other aspects of the environment. Their behaviour and habits were very different to the same kind of animals in other states or countries.

So, Ranger Smith reintroduced the Wolf. Just by the fact that the Deer now knew there was a predator changed their entire behaviour and habits back to how it should be. But again, as jwenting said, the option for the UK introducing a predator for Badgers isn't really an option, there are no wild bears or wolves to balance them. Some countries have the advantage of Lions being a predator of the Badger, now that would be exciting but not practical.

There is an interesting BBC discussion in a video on this page, as well as the rest of the information presented in that site

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you should read about the beaver population in Yellowstone as well, BigPaw.
It's part of the same story.

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Thank Dog, Wales has devolved powers with regard to this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-17435827 [half-sarcky]

However, vaccination won't stop the problem. Neither will a cull. Both should reduce it. It doesn't really bother me either way, as the science is inconclusive for both approaches.

Most farmers would like to see a cull as they see it as immediate, direct action, and vaccination seems a bit of a mamby-pamby cop-out, catering to the 'New Age' lentil-slurping hippies. Many "pro-badger groups" see the farmers as blood-thirsty superstitious imbeciles. Both views are ridiculous of course.
One can sympathise with the frustration of farmers as this issue has been going on for years and nothing seems to have been done about it. Farmers losing their stock is not acceptable - whole communities and local economies are based around livestock and agriculture. Whatever they decide to do, they should just get on with it and stop poncing about. Waiting for scientific certainty will see the decimation of dairy (and beef) cattle farming - although I suspect that would suit some people very well - not looking at anybody in particular! :)

Edited by diafol

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Waiting for scientific certainty

That's the problem, isn't it? Any government that doesn't want to take action - be it this matter, climate change, or whatever - just has to state "There is no scientific certainty; further study is required". Depending on how you define "scientific certainty" you may never have to take action. If 99.9% of scientists agreee and 0.1% disagree then there is not, technically, scientific certainty. In so many cases, such as the culling of excess animal populatiions, any action taken will arouse the ire of some large, vocal group.

Here in Canada we have a wonderful thing called the "Royal Commission". A Royal Commission is usually composed of friends of the party in power. These people are paid vast sums of money to cross the country at taxpayers' expense holding hearings and gathering information. After two or more years, once the fires have died down, a report is issued which is then filed and ignored.

But I'm not bitter.

Edited by Reverend Jim

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As a lentil-slurping hippie myself, I would be very happy indeed to see livestock farmers all go bankrupt. However, back to the problem of bTB and the real world. The increase in bTB has precious little to do with the badger population and plenty to do with modern livestock farming methods (the disease has sky-rocketed since cattle movement restrictions were lifted) and the solution sits with the farmers in terms of biosecurity and better cattle management. Both of which are expensive and cut into the bottom line, which brings us to the big truth in the whole thing: the bTB and badger-cull are driven by profit. Simple as. I'm fed up to the back teeth with farmers claiming to care for their cattle, when all they really care about it the bottom line. Cash cow is a very relevant term here...

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One of the problems with bTB vaccination is that the EU and/or many countries to which the EU exports cows and/or beef may not allow it as vaccination makes detection of the pathogen in the animal or product impossible (the tests cannot distinguish).
It is the same problem with Foot and Mouth, bird flu, etc. etc. Hence culling of infected herds (and potentially infected wildlife that can have contact with those herds) is the only way open to farmers and local authorities alike.

As a person who relies on meat for his survival (a carb rich diet which is any diet without meat makes me very sick very quickly) I need those lifestock farmers healthy and producing the cheap, bountiful, and tasty products they provide.
But even were I not I would not blindly run after anyone claiming they're out to destroy wildlife just because they're rich greedy whatevers, in no small part because I grew up in a small farming community and know most farmers are neither rich, nor greedy, and are much involved in preservation efforts on a local level. They live close to the land, rely on it for their income, and hate to see that land destroyed.
They may make mistakes, sometimes mistakes found to be costly over generations (like overfertilisation of fields up until the 1980s that caused massive soil acidification over time), but not for lack of caring.

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I'm fed up to the back teeth with farmers claiming to care for their cattle, when all they really care about it the bottom line.

I think that's a bit harsh HG, although it is their livelihood, so obviously the bottom line is important. I don't think it follows to say farmers don't care for their cattle. I've probably read the same articles - Guardian especially - but these are usually written by those with vested interests (both sides). Some even made a comparison to the rabies solution with baited feed. Shame they didn't realise that TB can't be controlled with feed. Here's one:

Canada controls the spread of rabies in their vast populations of skunks, raccoons and foxes by dropping vaccine baits both by hand and by air. If the Canadians can manage such a huge area by this method, it does make our shooting of badgers, whether they have TB or not, look rather primitive.

I may agree with the primitive bit, but not for the reason quoted. The thing is, there's so much bad science, hearsay, superstition and complete and utter ballocks being spouted in the media, it's difficult to get any objective info.

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another way to control the spread of rabies that's used in many countries is to just shoot the critters (or often to poison them, using bait laced with poison rather than vaccines, as it's much cheaper).

Can be done with TB as well of course, but there's a serious risk of the program leading to wider spread of the disease as it allows the disease to now spread to scavengers who can contract it from eating infected cadavers (of course depending on the poison they might also die from that same poison, wouldn't be the first time a campaign of poisoning one species has led to serious casualties in others).

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Herbivores (deer, beavers, boars etc...) will have population control issues in close proximity to humans because humans will kill their natural predators (wolves, etc...) because it they are "dangerous" (note hardly anyone is killed by them compared to car accidents). Without predators these herbivores which have evolved to reproduce fast enough to make up for predation grow out of control causing ecological havoc and car accidents - thus necessitating strictly regulated harvest by humans or re-introduction of natural predators.

However, predatory species generally won't have this problem because their reproduction has evolved to be slow enough so they don't exterminate their prey, that and the territorial behaviour of most predators (including badgers) is very effective in keeping their own population in check. Culling predators usually disrupts the territorial bahviour which can be counter productive if you want to reduce disease spread (more animals moving around) whereas vaccination (if possible) would create immunity-barriers to disease spread, and over-harvest of predators is very effective at exterminating them because of their relatively low reproductive rate (eg. wolf hunting extirpated wolves from the USA but deer hunting hardly makes a dent in their numbers).

I haven't read the science on the badgers but I'm inclined to believe it probably won't work.

Edited by Agilemind

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badgers aren't strictly predators, they're omnivores and scavenge.
And of course there's people feeding them because "they're cute and endangered" or "it's not humane to let them starve" (when in reality they're rather nasty and ill tempered), thus enabling a population that's higher than the area would normally allow.

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And of course there's people feeding them because "they're cute and endangered" or "it's not humane to let them starve" (when in reality they're rather nasty and ill tempered)

Made me smile. Describing wild animals as nasty and ill-tempered is quite funny. As funny as calling them cuddly or noble.

I like 'em. But I couldn't eat a whole one.

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We Canadians are a good example to go by right? There has been an attempt at rabies control and I think it has been pretty successful, all things considered. We also allow the clubbing of baby seals for sport once per year. You all could learn a thing or two from us! ;)

In all seriousness, I don't see an issue with opening up hunting seasons on animals that are too big in number because the natural world can't keep the numbers down. I know that a few years ago in my province (Manitoba) there were issues with too many beavers damming creeks and rivers so the government let loose the hunters for a season or two. They imposed hunting restrictions again once the numbers got down to "acceptable" levels. I relate this to the culling of badgers because if they’re responsible for TB spreading to different animals then have at them until it’s not an issue.

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clubbing of baby seals for sport once per year

Not for sport, for profit. :P

if they’re responsible for TB spreading to different animals then have at them until it’s not an issue

Problem is killing is very ineffective for controling disease spread. Just look at the futile attempts to control mountain pine beetle or Dutch elm disease by cutting & burning trees and trees can't even move to avoid the killers or refill gaps left after cutting/burning.

Edited by Agilemind

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Made me smile. Describing wild animals as nasty and ill-tempered is quite funny. As funny as calling them cuddly or noble.

they're what would be termed nasty and ill tempered if they were humans... Quick to bite, snarl, etc..
Of course they do so for in part different reasons :)

But definitely not cuddly, in fact if you were to try to cuddle a wild badger you'd get nasty infected scratches and bites as a result ;)

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Not for sport, for profit. :P

Well I guess most everything is done with profits in mind nowadays.

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