A master of a fox hunt has been convicted and awaits sentencing for taking part in cruel badger bating. The League Against Cruel Sports has called for him to resign and to close down the hunt. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports
Are the shortcoming of existing cattle TB tests soon to be exposed by a simple, clever blood test that has been waiting in the wings? The development may shine light on practical compromises in the extended, failing fight against TB in England - at huge tax-payers expense. Biologist TOM LANGTON looks at a growing dilemma in the world of bovine TB cattle testing
Teresa May's promise to bring back foxhunting has proved one of the most unpopular items in the Tories' election platform. So we should not be surprised at the official silence over the TB-infected hounds in the Kimblewick hunt, writes Lesley Docksey. Nor, given the political power of foxhunting landowners, should we be surprised that officials are shrugging off any idea that bad biosecurity in hunt kennels could possibly have anything to do with TB in cattle.
The government / NFU badger culling policy is based on a single study, the Randomised Badger Culling Trials (RBCT), which found that area-wide badger killing reduced TB 'breakdowns' in cattle herds. But a robust reanalysis of the RBCT data reveals that culling is entirely ineffective, writes Tom Langton. The only scientifically valid conclusion is that culling badgers has no effect on TB in cattle. Defra and Natural England must think again!
The Bovine TB conference in London last week was disrupted by media reporting of scientific conflict over badger culling studies, writes ecologist Tom Langton. But the real story is the collapse of confidence in the Randomised Badger Culling Trials, used to justify the mass killing of badgers; and the emergence of reliable new TB tests. The simple solution: stop the cull, and spend the money on gamma interferon cattle TB testing.
Below-par farm biosecurity should block farmers from participating in England's badger culls, writes Anna Dale. But a large body of evidence of poor and negligent biosecurity by farmers suggests that Natural England, the government's official regulator, is turning a blind eye to this strict requirement - and undermining the purpose of the cull.
The badger cull is a clear failure on scientific, cost and humanity grounds, writes Dominic Dyer. Yet the government is planning a major extension of the cull in 2017. That's why he has just sent a copy of his acclaimed book to every British MP, before they debate the issue next week. Write to yours now demanding an end to the slaughter!
The 25 TB-infected hounds of the Kimblewick hunt, all put down, remind us that the lot of hunting dogs is not a happy one, writes Lesley Docksey. Unloved and at constant risk of slaughter, they are prone to a host of diseases, from bovine TB to brucellosis, neospora and botulism, which they can pass on to farm stock, humans and other dogs. They deserve better!
Was the discovery of bovine TB in a pack of foxhounds in southern England covered up? Jordi Casamitjana asks if hunts bear much of the blame for the bTB epidemic, while Defra may have deliberately suppressed the evidence. The 25 bTB-infected hounds of the Kimblewick Hunt may just be the tip of an iceberg of diseased dogs spreading TB across the UK - while badgers take the blame.
The news that the Kimblewick Hunt's hounds are infested with bovine TB has come as a shock to farmers and hunters, writes Lesley Docksey. But it's no surprise to campaigners against the badger cull, who have long complained about poor farm hygiene and the feeding by hunts of disease-ridden 'fallen cattle' carcasses to foxhounds - never mind that the cattle are likely bTB carriers!
We know the outcome of Defra's latest 'public consultation' on killing badgers long before the results have even been analysed, writes Lesley Docksey. Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom has already promised farmers to extend the cull 'even further' - although it brings no proven benefits. Welcome to the new world of 'alternative facts' that's driving UK government policy.
If you love wildlife and enjoy country walks, you've got the makings of a badger patroller, writes Lesley Docksey. You can walk at night if you want to, but daytime observation on country lanes and footpaths is no less important, watching out for the signs of cullers at work. And with the trust and warm friendship that builds among badger patrollers, you'll never be without congenial company.
Al available science indicates that badgers have little if anything to do with bovine TB in cattle, writes Lesley Docksey. This is reflected in Wales's consultation on its 'refreshed TB Eradication Programme'. We must hope that Northern Ireland's bTB Eradication Strategy will be equally science based - and ready to campaign hard if it relies on cruel, ineffective and expensive badger culls.
Wales has achieved enviable success in reducing bovine TB in its cattle herds without killing badgers, writes Lesley Docksey. The farming lobby is still demanding an England-style cull, but the Welsh government's 'refreshed' policy on bTB remains firmly science-based and no badgers will be killed without 'objective evidence' of infection.
Thirty years ago, there was no evidence that badgers spread bovine TB among cattle, writes Lesley Docksey. Nor is there now. Yet badgers are still being slaughtered in a futile attempt to control the disease. This timely republication of Richard Meyer's 1986 book reveals the belligerent ignorance of the officials, politicians and farmers driving the failed policy.
England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction.
With today's news that badger culling will continue in Gloucester, Somerset and Dorset, and take place in three other counties, writes LESLEY DOCKSEY, there could be no more opportune moment for Dominic Dyer's new book 'Badgered to Death' to appear - expertly exposing the total absence of scientific evidence that badgers transmit bovine TB to cattle.
The government may want to press ahead with the English badger cull, writes Lesley Docksey. But after the Brexit vote it may just cost too much - for taxpayers and for the farmers who bear part an increasing share of the expense, now facing the loss of the 55% of their income that currently comes from Brussels.
Anti badger culling campaigner Lesley Docksey tells a very personal story of her relationship with the badgers that live near to her home and come there to feed including one that miraculously survived the cruelty of a snare trap
Badgers are having a rough time in England, writes Lesley Docksey. But it's no better in most other European countries, where they enjoy no specific protection and digging, baiting and shooting are widespread. Hence the new Eurobadger coalition formed to campaign for them Europe-wide. The one shining example is Holland - TB-free since 1999 without killing a single badger!
There are a thousand million voices that will never be heard when we in the UK vote on June 23 - they are all disenfranchised citizens of this land. We should think of them in the coming referendum, urges LESLEY DOCKSEY
The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle.
If we are ever to bring bovine TB under control in Britain's cattle herd, we must begin with the main disease reservoir, writes Tom Langton: the cattle themselves. The insistence on culling badgers has little to do with disease control, and everything to do with the short term economics of the beef and dairy industries, unwilling to sacrifice an iota of production in the interests of a real solution.
Why do we humans resort to shooting, whenever a challenging problem confronts us? Whether it's culling badgers to protect hedgehogs, or renewing the Trident missile threat with expensive upgrades, our species seems determined to upset the balance of nature and harmony on Earth by shooting first - and never asking the questions at all.