Gathering Momentum… And Badgers

RSPCA Badger Cull Leaflet

Well today has vanished… I worked most of last night on my dissertation and went to bed around 11am this morning sleeping until 6 (I know its bad however ethics side of dissertation is done Whooop!).

Today loads of people on twitter have messaged me encouragement and support, including the Ross Veterinary School over in the USA which was really touching! I am so grateful for every single person that does this as sometimes it looks impossible yet these tweets just remind its just difficult, not impossible.

Anyways, I’ve also had my first approach by a news site to feature an article on me and my struggle to raise funds (yay!) which will be appearing early next week! Also planning on talking to the local papers next week as well now that I have a plan forming. Going make a big change to this website over the weekend to hopefully make it a bit easier for me to raise the money I need.

I would rather get as close as I can to the £40,000 that I need before I start vet school as people I am talking keep saying how hard second year is. I want to be able to focus purely on my studies rather than having to worry about being able to afford to stay there.

And the Badgers…

Anyways back to animals, now today Defra won a legal battle to cull (kill) badgers to prevent the spread of TB. This is actually something that came up in the finals for my degree so I will say a few words here to give you a quick understanding of why a cull is the wrong move.

TB (Mycobacterium bovis) is a infectious disease that can be passed from badger to badger, or badger to cattle. It causes big losses to the cattle industry each year of around £90m/year. Badgers live in groups of 3 – 15, and are social animals with interactions between groups for matings common.

Now with TB control there are 3 possible options of:

  • Culling badgers which reduces the number of hosts avaliable
  • Vacinating badgers which reduces the number of susceptable hosts (hosts that can be infected)
  • and Husbandry to reduce the contact between cattle and badgers

Ok, so now picture this scenario, there is a cull of badgers and they miss one that is infected with TB. This badger then comes into contact with other badgers and infects them. The problem is still there…

Now if you picture loads of badgers being vaccinated, and one being missed. Now if this badger comes into contact with the vaccinated badgers, it cannot pass the disease on. And when this badger dies the disease dies with it.

Vaccinating is the best long term solution to this problem, and in fact steps have already been taken to change the current legislation so that this can be carried out. The vaccine itself is BadgerBCG, and can only be administered by injection. This means that badgers have to be captured to be vaccinated. At the same time as being vaccinated they are also microchipped so as to be tracked. Obviously some control is needed here, and there is FERA license that needs to be obtained from a 4 day training course in addition to licenses for Cage trapping.

In 2010-2011 72 Lay vaccinators were trained, 93 farmers got involved covering 111 square kilometers and 1171 badgers were vaccinated. In this area there was a decline in transmission to cattle.

We should be encouraging and supporting wildlife, unfortunately the UK Government likes sticking band-aids onto problems instead of resolving the cause, and this seems to be another case of that. Maybe they need to remember that human TB, Smallpox, Polio were all solved via vaccination and not by culling humans…

RSPCA Badger Cull Leaflet
RSPCA Badger Cull Leaflet – click to view full size
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