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Animal Welfare Update

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Every few months my website will carry news items concerned with animal welfare compiled by my staff. I hope you find the items useful and interesting.


Badger Cull

The debate about the culls is continuing and remains an important animal welfare issue.  An all party group of MPs recently held a meeting and heard a range of views from organisations and individuals including Adam Quinney from the NFU, former DEFRA Minister Jim Paice MP, Dr Brian May and Simon King, President of the Wildlife Trusts.


Those against the cull believe that the government is ignoring the scientific evidence and that the current estimates of badger populations are inaccurate, so any cull will be impossible to monitor. The NFU support the cull but advocated better and more regular testing of cattle.  There is no licensed vaccine for cattle and they said that they require government to help move this forward and this also requires EU support. 

The Wildlife Trusts said that culling badgers can make no meaningful contribution to tackling bovine TB (bTB).  They said that in some regions the strains have been found to be different and that it exists in the soil for 2 years.  They argue for more bio security measures and that greater outbreaks are more likely in intensive situations with stressed animals.  They believe that we need to be able to trial vaccination as it is the only way forward. Better understanding of the disease is also needed.

The Badger Trust has also recently challenged Natural England to justify its assertions of reduced estimates of badger populations in areas of Gloucestershire and Somerset, where culls are to be undertaken.  They say that a “fresh population estimate is now essential” and they have questioned the reliability of the data. 

For more information on the Badger Trust’s concerns visit:



Livestock Vaccines

An update has been produced by Parliament on livestock vaccines.  Research is being undertaken into a vaccine for bovine TB (bTB).  An injectable badger vaccine was licensed in 2010 and is being used by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Welsh Government in certain areas.  An oral badger vaccine is also being developed.  It is hoped that vaccinating badgers against tuberculosis (TB) will reduce bTB. 


A new EU Animal Health law is a new regulatory framework for animal health based on prevention being better than cure.  The new law will aim to set general principles for animal health, set out animal health requirements for the trade of live animals, and set out measures for disease control.  This may also see prioritisation of animal health over trade priorities, and may lead to changes in some restrictions on vaccinations.

Defra funds research to develop new vaccines and to investigate the effectiveness of existing vaccines.  To find out more visit: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/POST-PN-433


Cruelty to badgers: prosecutions increased

Figures revealed in Parliament recently have shown that there has been an increase in the number of people prosecuted for cruelty to badgers, under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.  The data looked at proceedings at Magistrates courts for offences under the Act in England and Wales, which includes prosecutions for crimes such as badger baiting.  Data released covered the period 2007 and 2011.  Proceedings rose from 30 in 2007 to 58 in 2011.  Data for 2012 is expected to be published in May 2013.


To view the government’s response please visit:



Marine Conservation Zones

The House of Commons Library has recently produced a note, which describes the designation of Marine Conservation Zones.  The Zones will be used to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. The government has proposed 31 Marine Conservation Zones to be designated in 2013, with the possibility of further designations in the future.  A public consultation on the proposals closed on 31 March 2013.


To learn more visit: http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06129

The Marine Conservation Society has also issued information visit:



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