Badgers, bTB and comment by Carl Padgett from yesterday's bTB debate at the Farmers Guardian
(See also Alistair Driver's summary at www.farmersguardian.com)
Carl Padgett is President of the British Veterinary Association. He is a former president of the British Cattle Veterinary Association and former Chairman of Trustees of the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation.
Between 2006 and 2008 he was co-chairman of the UK Cattle Health and Welfare Strategy Council and since 2008 he has been a member of the TB Eradication Group for England, a cross-industry group advising the Secretary of State.
19th May 2012 ~ Chosen quotations from the contribution of Carl Padgett, President of the British Veterinary Association (from yesterday's bTB debate at the Farmers Guardian)
A constant dread......of disclosing reactors and subsequently dealing with restricted farms and farmers suffering stress. So much time spent with bTB deflects attention from managing other health and welfare problems and saps energy and enthusiasm. A feeling of frustration from not being able to address the infection properly, with one half of the equation not being open to them, it's like fighting with one hand tied behind one's back.
The RBCT's are the best source of evidence; reducing the badger population in a pro-active coordinated fashion in a targeted area reduces the numbers of new herd breakdowns when compared with areas that are not culled. The question is how best to do it.
The method of culling in RBCTs was v expensive making the sustainability of long term removal exercises questionable.The pilots will investigate if another method of removal can be just as effectiive at reducing the badger population in a humane and safe way; if so, similar results should be delivered.
On ISG the aim was to be gold standard exactly how Gareth describes. But delivering pure science on such a large scale in the real agricultural and wildlife world is exceptionally difficult to achieve.16% is an average over the whole culling and post-culling period. At the later stages the effect was much greater and as time goes on that 16% is likely to increase (and will have increased since the scientists drew their line in the sand). ...A 16% relative reduction to the farming industry and vets is definitely 'meaningful' in comparison to a continued deterioration. ... there is much more data to be mined from the RBCT than has been undertaken. ...The negative perturbation effect hypothesis is unproven, but is a good fit for the adverse effect in herd breakdowns that occur in the short term around the culled areas. John Bourne himself suggested at the publication of the ISG report that the contribution from badgers in endemic areas could be as much as 40%. And others have suggested it could be as much as 50%. In the low risk areas the contribution is negligible to nil.
we know that where there is a significant wildlife reservoir of bovine TB it must be tackled for the problem in cattle to be addressed effectively.There is an increasing problem in parts of France where the role of the badger is being implicated and they are asking themsleves serious questions about what to do about it.
Are cattle controls good enough?Given that 50% of the infection is coming from cattle we obviously have to address that. Methods are currently being investigated how to improve diagnostics and deploy themn in the most effective manner. How best to understand and manage the risks associated with cattle movements and general biosecurity on farms are v important. We can always improve.