Monday, May 14, 2007

Save the badgers - The Daily McCrumble

An attempt in the Republic of Ireland to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis by culling badgers has failed, miserably. Thousands of badgers were killed in the attempt, prompted by the speculation (and very limited reasearch evidence) that badgers spread TB to cattle. The incidence of TB has increased. This is not the first time that killing off the much-loved, black-and white striped, short-legged omnivores has failed to do the job, which makes you wonder why they keep flogging such a dead horse. Could it be do to with the perceived improvements in cost-effectiveness of snaring badgers vs routine TB testing in cattle?

TB testing still happens in the UK. But did you know that during the foot and mouth epidemic a few years ago, the testing was suspended for 9 months. And guess what happened...

That's right - the badgers got sick (ref 1).

On top of that, badgers are very socially mobile creatures. Badgers in general are attracted to smaller groups (ref 2), and male badgers will head off for groups with a higher proportion of females. You can easily see how killing off part of a group increases social mobility, thus potentiating the spread of various infectious diseases

What happens, then, if you stop testing for TB and cull badgers?

That's right - you move TB infested cattle around, thus spreading TB to the local badger population. Then, by killing off a proportion of the badgers, you cause the badgers to move around, thus spreading TB amongst the badger population.

This is what happened in Ireland.

RIP, badger


(This report was commissioned by Timothy Hedgehog, who wishes to bring the plight of his woodland friends to the blogosphere)


Kim Ayres said...

Someone said to me the other day, and they stressed that they weren't usually a conspiracy theorist, but I couldn't be arsed to do the research and find out whether what they said was actually true or not, but what they said was, "Did you notice that the whole Foot & Mouth thing vanished overnight - September 12th 2001 and it had been completely forgotten about."

hazel love said...

The boy's nickname is Badger. He counts it as a personal affront that he is being culled, and (by proxy) so offers his wholehearted support to Timothy Hedgehog.

He has tried to phone through, but lost patience when asked to press star/hash just one too many times.

It is the blame culture. Man is too ready to blame animals, who can't anwser back, for their own stupid mistakes.

I blame the parents.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I didn't realises hedgehogs cared about badgers, but all this culling is very wrong. I don't see why Ireland shouldn't be a game reserve, the humans could easily be moved somewhere else.