Sunday, 26 February 2012

bTB - Badgers and the Cull!

During the month of November 2010 I contacted my local MP, Mr. Mark Harper on the issue of bTB and my concerns regarding the proposed badger cull.
It took a while, but I finally received a reply. Not from my local MP, but from MP Jim Paice "Minister of State for Agriculture and Food."
He did have an answer for everything I threw at him, but he failed to "directly" answer many of my questions and concerns.
Maybe he thought I would lose interest and he could shut me up with a 6 page reply.
You can read the 6 page reply at the end of this post.

Sadly the cull has now been given the green light in Gloucestershire and this is very disappointing as there is an alternative.
A vaccine is available, it has been trialed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and it works, yet our Government is not interested in investing in a vaccination; instead they have invested in a trial cull, which will see free running badgers shot at night. Not all of these animals will be carrying bTB, so this means lots of healthy badgers "will" inevitably be shot!
For them to be able to establish if this trial cull works, they will need to eradicate all badgers from the chosen area and to make matters worse, the reason it has been labeled a trial cull is because they are not sure if shooting free running badgers is the most humane way to do it!
If you have researched bTB you will know that the bTB bacteria can lye undetected in the soil for nearly two years! Click Here
If they persist with their proposed cull, killing all the badgers in the designated areas will not solve the problem as the areas will also have to be sealed off while being cleaned and disinfected. Is this going to be possible on small holdings and at farms, which have large herds?
Also, how are they going to stop other badgers from taking up this new territory after they have eradicated all the badgers? After all that's what all animals do; search out new territory!
The shooting of just one badger at night could cause the entire colony to flee the sett in search of safer ground. What if any, or all of these badgers are infected with bTB! I don't have to spell out what would happen then, do I?

Some of the other concerns I raised were...
Routine testing
Pre-movement testing
Movement restrictions
Gamma testing
Removal of infected animals
Control methods in place for the movement of infected animals

Here is my reply from MP Jim Paice, dated 8th February 2011.

I will leave you with this....

DEFRA has invested over £16 million in badger TB vaccine Research and Development since 1994/95. So why is it that the badger cull vaccine deployment fund is only £250,000?


Where did bTB come from? Was it the badgers who transmitted this disease to cattle, or did the cattle transmit it to the badgers?
It has been widely documented that typical farm conditions harbour bTB. Lets face it, the vast majority of cattle on our farms have to stand in their own urine and feaces, in damp, dingy, humid sheds and barns. These conditions are ideal for the bTB bacteria to survive!

Visit Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust for more information on the vaccine HERE

Please CLICK HERE to add your support for the badger.


Dippers - Mating in the Forest of Dean!

Fantastic weekend and the weather has been bang on too!
After gaining a dipper location I decided to put in a few hours today to see if I could capture this elusive bird, (in a photograph that is).

The location wasn't great as it was quite dark, but I found a nice stone, which looked ideal for a dipper to rest on.

I must have sat there for at least 4hrs until suddenly I saw a flash from my right and sure enough, a dipper landed right where I wanted it to.

Now, if you have a sense of humour and are still here, thank you for enjoying "my" humour and read on.....

I was gobsmacked that a dipper was right in front of me, as if posing for the camera! But everything was about to go go ballistic as another one (presumably the male) turned up and they started mating, right there in front of me!

This was more than I could have ever imagined and I was buzzing with adrenaline, but then from out of nowhere a crazed beast popped up and before I knew it the dippers were gone! All that remained was just a few crumbs!

I managed to capture the beast and after a few moments I had tamed him. He is now a close friend and I am sure he will be popping up (unexpectedly) in future photographs, so look out for him.

PS: After interrogation he told me that they tasted like chicken!

There are lots of issues regarding our wildlife in the UK, which can sometimes get you down. For this reason it is "always" a good idea to occasionally do something silly, just to remind yourself that although it may be hard work sticking up for the wildlife, usually ending up with ridicule and abuse being thrown back at you; it is also there to be enjoyed and we (I) mustn't be serious all the time.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Feeding Time!

Well I took loads of food into the forest today with the intention of giving the birds a feast!
It didn't take long for the usual suspects to show up, but what I was really looking for was a Great Spotted Woodpecker to show in the snow. I could hear them drumming the trees nearby, but they were too busy and didn't put in an appearance.

Some of the birds, which did show up...

Female Blackbird




And a Pigeon

Something caught my eye, but it was so quick I couldn't make out what it was, so I focused my attention on the area waiting to see if it would show again, whatever it was.
Then I saw it, a tiny wood mouse peeking out from a crevice in the tree. I took a few snaps, but I was too far away to get a decent shot, so I moved in to see how close I could get.
With the temperature dropping in the area to -7 at night and with snow on the ground, this little mouse braved the snow to come within a few inches of me; pinching peanuts before scampering off back to the safety of the crevice.
Then another one turned up and another! Three wood mice, I couldn't believe it, but at least they have enough peanuts to see them through the bad weather now.

Here are two of the wood mice. I was too far away for a decent photo, so I moved in closer!

Now closer (a lot closer) I waited for one to peek over the top.

He watched me for a second or two before risking it and scampering towards the peanuts.

He grabs a peanut!

He hasn't eaten the peanut, it is in his cheek pouch!

I decided to re-focus on the birds, but I had a problem, a big problem!
A sheep decided to jump up on the fallen tree and she started to eat the bird food. I scared her off a few times, but she kept coming back. It was hopeless, so I called it a day.