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Animal Welfare Update

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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.


An end to battery cages

The UK is leading the way in the fight against battery cages. A European Union ban on battery cages came into effect 1st January 2012; however there has been no agreement on how this is to be enforced. Thirteen countries haven’t removed battery cages, which could mean millions of hens across Europe remain in poor living conditions.


In the UK, the government has worked closely with the UK egg industry, processors, food manufacturers, the food service sector and retailers and reached an agreement that they will not sell or use battery-farmed eggs.


The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) will also scan batches of eggs with UV light to determine whether they have been laid in the old battery cages. Under UV light the eggs show wire markings on the shell. These eggs will not be allowed to be sold as class A (whole) eggs.

For information visit: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/12/06/higher-welfare-eggs/


Disputes over badger culling

Opposition is mounting against government plans to implement badger culling across the country, which aims to control the spread of Bovine TB in cattle. Bovine TB (affecting cattle) costs the UK economy 100 million a year and badgers are thought to be one of the reasons for the spread of the disease.


Plans to pilot two badger culls in West Somerset and West Gloucestershire have met with opposition. A lobby group working in Gloucestershire aims to prevent the cull and has attracted the support of individuals and organisations, including farmers and businesses. They argue that culling is not effective, reducing incidences of the disease by 16% and they are calling for money to be spent on developing vaccinations instead.


The Wildlife Trusts are also calling on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to stop the cull. They argue that the measure shows a lack of understanding about badger populations. Badgers tend to live in small groups within a confined area. The Trusts believe that culling will only disrupt their social group and cause survivors to move around beyond their territory, potentially spreading the disease even further. Instead they want the government to develop better vaccines for both badgers and cattle and campaign for a change to EU regulation that would permit the commercial deployment of vaccines.


More funding for police specialist wildlife unit

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is providing funding to the London Metropolitan police’s specialist wildlife unit to tackle illegal trading of animals, animal products and plants. Since 1995 the Metropolitan Police has seized 30,000 endangered species. In 2008 they seized thousands of pounds of raw ivory products, including 24 whole elephant tusks.


This will be the first time a charity has directly funded a Metropolitan Police Service Unit. They hope to protect the Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) against future funding cuts and help to create a lasting enforcement legacy.

See: http://www.wspa.org.uk/latestnews/2012/london_wildlife_crime.aspx


New pilot scheme to help dolphins

The biggest threat to dolphins and porpoises off the Cornish coast is them becoming tangled in fishing nets. Despite a number of existing protections, there is no regulation for the activities of smaller, inshore boats. Now The Cornwall Wildlife Trust believes it has found a solution. The Trust has been working with local fisherman to identify a suitable pinger, which deters dolphins and porpoises without causing practical issues for the fishermen. A trial has shown a 48% reduction in harbour porpoise activity around the nets.


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