Badger Trust Seminar 2015

After collecting my trail camera I was thrilled to see that not only had I filmed the adult badgers but I had also filmed badger cubs for the first time this year! I set my camera up near the sett last Saturday and there was no sign of cubs so this was obviously one of the first times they had emerged from the sett. I was thrilled with the footage, It was fantastic to see the natural behaviour of badger cubs exiting the sett for one of the first times. I filmed a variety of activity from cubs playing, the adults having a good scratch and one of the adults dragging one of the cubs back in to the sett by the scruff of its neck. Here’s one of the clips, I’ll be doing a blog post with more later on in the week.

I didn’t have that much time to look through as I had a long journey ahead of me to the Badger Trust Seminar in Bristol. As I was eager to go and my parents were working I managed to get a lift from a member of the South Derbyshire Badger Group which was great and I was so pleased I went! There was a prompt start at 11 for the AGM then after lunch the afternoon of debates began.

First debate – The Badger Cull

The first debate was on the badger cull. Sat on the panel was Professor John Bourne, the Chairman of Independent Scientific Group, Roger Blowey, Livestock Vet, John Blackwell, President of British Veterinary Association and Mark Jones, Vet and Wildlife Protection Campaigner. As you can see, from the variation of panel members, it was very interesting and resulted in a fantastic debate with a mixture of discussion from the panel and comments from the audience. This debate was very important as it’s not very often you get people like this together. Before comments from the floor the members of the panel introduced themselves and give a small introduction then Dominic Dyer, Badger Trust CEO, asked them a question on what they had said.

However before long this got a bit out of hand and the debate became very intense. For me it was a great experience and to hear so many people express their opinion in such a strong way, against the cull, was truly inspiring. Also the fact that they weren’t afraid to speak out against those on the panel which are in favour of the cull.

The first to speak was John Blackwell, President of British Veterinary Association. This was interesting as the British Veterinary Association had released their statement on the badger cull just a few days before the Seminar. In the statement they had made a U-turn from their original idea which was culling free running badgers was the way to go. Instead, in their latest statement, they stated that the pilot culls should continue but badgers should be caught in cages before shot as they believe it’s a ‘humane and effective’ way.

This was then followed by Roger Blowey, a recently retired Livestock Vet and author of report on the possible impact of culling lowering TB rates in cattle. I’ve read comments from him in many articles stating the fact that he believes ‘the culling of badgers in the county is the only reason why farmers are now testing negative for bovine TB for the first time in a decade’. Roger Blowey made many more comments and suggestions like this one throughout his introduction and in the debate.

Without a doubt, this fired the debate up. Many people in the audience got involved which was timed nicely with the great introduction from Professor John Bourne. It was obvious he knew what he was talking about as he destroyed any scientific, economic or animal welfare justification for the current badger cull policy. He went into great detail, along with giving examples from other countries, that the negligence and deceit within the Government, Farming and Veterinary Industry has led to the demonisation of badgers for spreading bTB when all the evidence points to poor bTb testing and cattle controls as a key factor for the increase in Btb. He also stated how millions of pounds has been wasted, wildlife destroyed and how farmers and tax payers have been let down by a disastrous bTb reduction policy which has focused on badgers far too much.

The last one to speak was Mark Jones who is a vet and wildlife protection campaigner. His introduction went through different reasons why the cull isn’t and won’t work. He presented his points in a very organised way and put his points across clearly. He also made the very valid points on how badger persecution is rising which is no doubt related to the badger cull.

Overall it was an extremely interesting and tense afternoon, I was very pleased to be there. Obviously, as you all know, I’m against the cull, full stop. So being there during the debate was a fantastic experience. The atmosphere was incredible and I felt privileged to be surrounded by people that care so passionately. Going to an event like this makes me realise, more so, why I am against the cull and makes me more determined to help do my bit to rule it out and resort to other ways to reduce bTb.

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Second debate – Wildlife Crime

The afternoon didn’t stop there though as there was another debate which was on wildlife crime. I must say, this debate wasn’t as intense but it was still very interesting. The panel was chaired by the new Badger Trust chairman, Peter Martin, and on the panel was Charlie Moores, Birders Against Wildlife Crime, Tom Quinn, Director of Campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, Pauline Kidner, Founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue and Lee Bainbridge who is the wildlife Crime Officer from the area.

Starting it off was Charlie Moores who is the Chair of Birders Against Wildlife Crime. He gave a summary about what BAWC is about, his views on wildlife crime and tackling wildlife crime. Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a campaign group which was set up last year by a group of experienced birders and conservationists who are sick of the number of crimes being committed against wildlife. I went along to BAWC’s first conference a few weeks back which was a fantastic day and you can read more about it by clicking here.

This was followed by Tom Quinn who is the director of campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports. He spoke about how reducing wildlife crime is a massive priority for The League, wildlife crimes including fox hunting and badger persecution, increased promotion of wildlife crime on social media, how the badger cull is having an impact on badger persecution and how wildlife crime data is uncoordinated and underfunded. He also spoke about the work The League do and convicting the wildlife criminals.

For this debate, most likely due to the fact that we all had mutual feelings, it was more organised and the speakers had the chance to speak before the debate. Next up was the wildlife crime officer for Avon and Somerset, Lee Bainbridge. She spoke about reporting wildlife crime, the role and increase of wildlife crime officers and how the training is improving. I think the talk from Lee Bainbridge could relate to most of us as if you’re one for being outdoors and observing wildlife you come across wildlife crimes. I came across one which had been committed at a badgers sett last year and got in touch with my local wildlife crime officer and the Badger Trust. Fortunately the result was very good.

Before the audience could ask questions there was one more talk which was from the Founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Pauline Kidner. She spoke about the increase of injured badgers which is linked to the cull, wildlife traps and snares and reporting and recording wildlife crime. Another thing she spoke about was something that she believes is important that we need to do to help tackle wildlife crime and that is by starting with educating the youth. I was pleased she brought this up as it’s a subject which is also very important to me.

When I go to school I’m surrounded by young people that have no idea about the ongoings in our countryside. This is partly to do with things like technology which have taken over. If young children aren’t able to go out and engage with the outdoors from a young age and learn about it when they grow up then how are they supposed to be able to report wildlife crime, help protect species and habitats, and most of all put their opinion across on what they think should be going on in the countryside and to our wildlife, without being brainwashed.

This debate was different to the one on the badger cull as everyone on the panel had mutual feelings. However there was a lot of discussion about the problems with reporting wildlife crimes and how it isn’t being taken seriously enough. There was also a discussion about fox hunting and the illegal on goings which aren’t dealt with.

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After a fantastic day it was finished perfectly with a talk from the actor and animal ambassador, Peter Egan. He gave his comment from the discussions which had gone on and read out a very inspirational poem about Moon Bears.

 

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19 comments

  1. Very true about young people not being engaged in the outdoors – that’s why clubs like Wildlife Watch are good. I think there should be more education in schools about the environment and wildlife. Not enough people seem to care, but maybe they would if there was more education about issues like these.
    Sounds like a good debate though; shame I couldn’t go myself.

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  2. What a wonderful article – very sensitive and insightful to the seminar, particularly on the issue of badger culling. It is quite sad that this lovely animal has been caught up in the politics of biased farming unions, ignorant vets and a mindless government. It is encouraging when young people can see through these politics, even though it appears that those with more ‘experience’ cannot. Well done!!

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    • Thank you! The badger cull debate was fantastic, as was the wildlife crime one, but the argument against the cull was fought in such a brilliant way. If only the Government would listen to scientists like Professor John Bourne!

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  3. Georga, you must assume that TB is infectious but I think you have got that wrong. You state that Professor John Bourne knew what he was talking about, but I must respectfully disagree and here is why… So here is a very important message…. here we have the Professor John Bourne’s file (link below) from the recent AGM seminar the ‘Badger Trust’. Sadly, the good professor cannot see the wood for the trees. This is my comment on this ‘you tube’ file… It is in black and white, we can no longer place our faith in the TB infectious myth. Without him knowing, he has provided enough evidence that explains the environmental causation of TB reactor cows. TB was never ever infectious and the good professor and the ‘Badger Trust’ have both got it all wrong. . Here is my comment…

    “18.40mins National Spread TB since 1986. Here we have the Chernobyl poison effect translated into infectious disease. Oh dear me, how can the good professor miss that one. This is the tragedy of this whole ‘infectious’ issue, but it is the ‘elephant in the room’ but no one can see it. The reason being, we have been infected with infectious TB when all the time this issue is all about the environment. He then points out that pre 1986, there were just two restricted areas, and so what was the cause. We now need to look at a map of UK nuclear power stations, Hinkley Point B and Oldbury. What a coincidence that these two restrictive points around the Bristol Channel literally pin-point these two power plants. You couldn’t make this up if you tried. The good professor has missed this critical causation of reactor cows. It was not the animals that should have been eliminated, as the good professor states; it’s these nuclear plants that should have been eliminated because they have poisoned the land! He then says that the disease spread over that period but what he really means is that post 1986, the pollution spread (Chernobyl) over that period culminating in more and more reactor cows. The infectious myth is quite clearly a monumental blunder in science and shame on the good professor that he has missed this, a case of our top class statisticians unable to see the wood for the trees. TB was never ever infectious. That is totally impossible. This is a case of infectious theory gone mad.” John Wantling, Rochdale Badger Cull – TB not Infectious (Whale.to)
    Professor John Bourne speaker at the Badger Trust AGM Seminar 2015 filmed by Diane Bartlett.

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  4. Georgia, so basically my research has pinpointed two nuclear reactors on the Bristol Channel and then post 1986 Chernobyl as the cause of the dramatic upsurge TB reactor cows and so this badger cull and the mass slaughter of TB cows is not an infectious disease, but a nuclear pollution issue. This is damning, to say the very least. Our brave and fearless infectious academics can no longer continue on propagating TB infectious, this is utter nonsensical. Moreover, I have just saved the government from bleeding £100m every year for the next 23 years from the public purse. I am totally uneducated, but I feel that I have just solved the mysteries of the badger cull. Even if you had any reservations on my research before now, which many people did, you cannot ignore this nuclear link. What will now happen, our fearless academics will either go very quiet or denial will rule the waves. They will never admit that they have got it all wrong. But as I say, it is as clear as can be. But we can thank Professor Bourne for pointing this out even though he was totally unaware of it at the time. John Wantling, Rochdale Badger Cull – TB not Infectious http://www.whale.to/c/tb_not_infectious.htm%27.htm

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    • John, I think you need to stop muddying the waters with this ‘anti-infection’ theory. You are basically saying that environmental conditions deplete an immune system enough wherein it is unable to cope with an outside agency that attacks it. That is a given, and has little to do with the subject at hand. Any immune system that is strong enough to ward off such an attack presumes that the host does not succumb to the attack or illness. Whether the immune system has been weakened by the effects of Chernobyl, lack of hygiene, stress, nuclear reactors, toxins in our food or water, is immaterial.

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      • J Brown, with great respect, I am not sure what you mean, but what I am saying is that post 1986, there was a massive upsurge in reactor cows, and that was clearly Chernobyl related. When a cow is being poisoned, it will generate an immune defense, and this defense, the generation of antibodies, is picked up on these TB tests. If we go back before 1986 Chernobyl, there were two restricted areas that pinpoint two nuclear reactors. It is in black and white, it is so clear that no one can possibly miss it. So I am saying TB isn’t over here, and a cow over there, TB is a manifestation of the immune system, it is in actual fact saving the life of the animal. It is called homeostasis. This means that TB is not infectious, it is not something that we catch. As a consequence, the badger cull or the slaughter of cattle is based on an infectious myth. Let’s not forget, the infectious myth is dependent on the mode of transmission being found, but after 40/60 years, no mode of transmission. This merely strengthens my case. In fact, I have solved the cull and solved the bovine TB issue. John Wantling, Rochdale

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences of the seminar. The bTB issue is emotive and complex. I do not think culling badgers is the answer. I also worry about the knock on effects in the increase in wildlife crime related to badgers, and other animals as well. I know people who cherish their lawns and carefully planted expensive bulbs who get very upset when ‘wretched badger’ comes along in the night and lays waste to their garden. Another I heard say a neighbor would be willing to sit out in the night and shoot the one digging around the edges of her lawn. I am appalled by such comments, and I reminded the latter that badgers are a protected species and to do so would be illegal. Even if said partly in jest it shows a mindset that is very dangerous. There is a real problem of education when people do not understand badger habits and badger trails their housing estates are plunked down in the middle of interfering with long established ways badgers hunt and dine.

    Great capture of the badger and cubs doing badger stuff at the beginning of this post.

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    • I found a great solution to the ‘damage’ done to my garden by badgers – I put out a bowl of food for them each evening. Turns out, they love cat food, and returned every night at sundown for their nightly feed. My lawn was never touched again, and it was a wonderful experience to watch them. The sad end to this story is that the government came in and culled all the badgers in my area, so now there are none left.

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      • Absolutely!! You must remember that ‘older’ people, farmers, etc. are entrenched in this idea that the badger is the villain here – they have been listening to this theory for upwards of 40 years. Most believe it at face value, and do not take the time to look at the information themselves, nor realize that everything about this theory is based on supposition. Even the scientific documents are filled with vocabulary such as ‘it would appear’, ‘it might be suggested’, ‘it is possible’, etc., which certainly does not indicate proven facts or information. It is up to younger people who have not been so brainwashed, to change the public’s view of the lovely, and ‘protected’ badger…..

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  6. J Brown, you say that even the scientific documents are filled with vocabulary such as ‘it would appear’, ‘it might be suggested’, ‘it is possible’, etc., which certainly does not indicate proven facts or information. This is exactly what I have been saying relentlessly, and in my writings I explain why. It wasn’t long ago when you told me that I was muddying the waters with my anti-infection theory, but the infection theory is full of those expressions that you cite. The brainwashing is based upon the infectious theory, that is clear as can be. If a young person stood up and questioned the infectious myth, would you tell him to stop ‘muddying the waters’ or would you encourage him to change the public view. You cannot have it both ways. John Wantling, Rochdale

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    • John, the definition of an infection is the invasion and multiplication of microorganisms, like viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc., that are not normally present within the body. There is no mystery about this definition, nor is it a theory. There is also no mystery that TB and bTB are transmitted via respiration and ingestion. That is the infection. One can be infected (have invasive bacteria, viruses, etc. within a host) without succumbing to the consequent disease. The mystery – if such exists – is why one infected host becomes ill, and another doesn’t. This is where your ‘discussion’ of toxins, immune systems, Chernobyl, etc., may have some relevance.
      However, regarding the bTB issue amongst cattle and badger, the ‘mystery’ is not that no one knows how infections are generally transmitted, the mystery is how badgers transmit these bacteria to cattle. And THAT is where theorizinthe theoryg comes in, filled with ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’ etc., as, in 40 years, no one has been able to definitively ascertain how a bacteria that is within a badger can be transmitted to a cow.

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      • J. Brown, the definition of infection is the definition that you adhere to. You also state that you know the mode of transmission but you go tell Professor David Macdonald that because he don’t know and neither do you know unless you conjure up an infectious theory. What we in fact have is a dance of microbes and the immune system, but ‘catching’ a disease is not included in this package regardless that we have formed a theory that it is. This is why, as soon as a reactor cow is found, meaning that this cow has reacted (an immune response), we automatically assume that this animal has a terrible infectious disease, when in reality, it may well be a healthy animal that is under stress. How do you define a sick animal, by taking a glorified protein test and then translating that test into infectious disease theory? Microbes may well be infectious, but we do not ‘catch’ disease because disease is an inside-out process. Infection by a microbe is an outside-in process so this is something different. Catching a disease is a grand assumption, one that has led our brave academics astray. No mode of transmission has ever been found and no one will ever find it. All we can find is a theory that a creature has ‘caught’ a disease when in reality it may not even be ill. An immune response is not a disease. When you say that we need someone fresh to come up with ideas, you are saying that you are frustrated with the current situation. But if you then translate a fresh idea into the old languages, then your sentiments are meaningless, and so the slaughter will continue on. For change to come, we need to be fresh, not imprisoned by stale theoretical thinking. John Wantling, Rochdale

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  7. Again, you just don’t get it. Infection is solely the transmission of the microbes. Even MacDonald, or whoever else you wish to quote, accepts that definition. Whether one gets a disease from that infection or not, is the point. TB is a bacteria, and its mode of transmission is well known – it’s respiratory. The discussion is whether or not cattle are infected, ie, living with the TB bacteria present in their organs, and even MacDonald accepts this. When an immune system is strong, it is able to kill off this bacteria, and disease does not ensue. When an immune system is weak, whether through environmental or genetic causes, a disease occurs. There is no mystery about any of this. The mystery is perhaps how you can read established science, and still come up with this mumbo jumbo.

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    • J Brown, you are perfectly correct about Professor David Macdonald, but the problem with ‘mumbo jumbo’ is that I don’t mass slaughter 249,228 cows and threaten the badger with extinction on the basis of a glorified protein test that cannot even detect ‘infectious’ disease. You do this! This is what ‘infectious’ thinking achieves. The infectious theory cannot be supported by a mode of transmission unless you conjure up a theory and that my friend is ‘mumbo jumbo’. That is a big problem, and that is your ultimate downfall. Moreover, you will never find it. John Wantling, Rochdale

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