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Animal Welfare Update

Wednesday, September 26, 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.

 

Badgers cull to start

The government have given permission for badgers to be culled this autumn in two pilot zones in Gloucestershire and Somerset in the South West of England. As many as 100,000 badgers could be shot by trained marksmen if the proposals in the two pilot zones are extended to the whole country.

The reason given for this cull is that it is to protect cattle from tuberculosis. Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease of cattle. It is a serious problem for the cattle industry, causing financial and personal hardship for farmers. The disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), which can also infect and cause TB in badgers, deer and other mammals.

Scientific evidence has shown that bovine TB can be transmitted from cattle to cattle; from badgers to cattle and cattle to badgers; and from badger to badger. However, it is not clear how big a role badgers play in the spread of bovine TB since the cows can also pass the disease on to other members of the herd.

Independent scientists have pointed out that killing badgers disrupted their social groups, with badgers moving further afield to establish new groups, taking TB with them. This led to an increase in cases of bovine TB outside of the cull zone. Campaigners against culling say it will not have a significant impact in reducing the disease and are calling for the government to focus on vaccination instead.

The vaccine for badgers - the BCG jab - has been used by a number of wildlife and conservation bodies in England, including the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the National Trust. Badger vaccination is also underway in Wales, and there are plans to introduce it in Northern Ireland.

According to the Food, Environment and Research Agency (Fera): "Vaccinating badgers is a risk reduction measure. It reduces the risk of badgers catching TB, resulting in fewer infected badgers. This in turn may reduce the risk of transmission from badgers to cattle."

Cattle can also be vaccinated with the BCG vaccine. However, vaccination of cattle against TB is currently prohibited by EU legislation, mainly because BCG vaccination of cattle can interfere with the tuberculin skin test, the main diagnostic test for TB. Vaccination is not effective in badgers or cattle that are infected with TB

An e-petition has been launched against the cull which currently has over 120,000 people signed up: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

For details of the Badgers Trust visit: http://www.badger.org.uk/Content/Home.asp

 

Animal welfare abroad survey results

A recent YouGov survey found that over half of British adults, 52%, said that if they were on holiday abroad and saw an animal being mistreated it would put them off visiting that country again.

Over a quarter of people said that they have been concerned for an animal’s welfare when taking part in activities such as a camel safari or horse ride. 1 in 5 holidaymakers said they had seen an animal being mistreated whilst overseas, the majority of which were linked to tourism activities.

The YouGov survey was carried out for international animal charity the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad. The charity wants British holidaymakers to know that they are in a unique position to use their spending power to change animal welfare for the better and have launched an ethical animal tourism guide. To view the charity’s advice, including what you can do if you witness animals being mistreated abroad, visit: www.spana.org/tourism 

Source: YouGov < http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/08/07/animal-welfare-abroad/ >

 

Report highlights illegal trade of endangered species

A new report by WWF has found that the survival of wild rhinos, tigers and elephants is still under threat. Many countries in Africa and Asia still experience poaching and trafficking in ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts. The WWF ‘Wildlife Crime Scorecard’ report was released to coincide with a high profile meeting of 175 countries in Geneva to discuss a range of wildlife trade issues.

 

The report looks at compliance with and enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (known as CITES) and specifically the commitments for Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants. The report gives countries scores of green, yellow or red for each animal, as an indicator of recent progress. WWF found that illegal trade persists in almost all of the 23 countries reviewed however the scorecard seeks to differentiate between countries where it is actively being countered.

To read the Wildlife Crime Scorecard report visit:

 http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_wildlife_crime_scorecard_report.pdf

 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls, including through a licensing system. To find out more about CITES visit: http://www.cites.org/

Sources: WWF < http://www.wwf.org.uk/news_feed.cfm?6133/Scorecard-shows-which-countries-protect-wildlife-from-illegal-trade---and-which-dont > and CITES < http://www.cites.org/ >

 

7.5 million for global wildlife

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra) recently announced funding of 7.5 million as part of their Darwin Initiative. The Initiative has helped some of the world’s poorest countries protect their wildlife. From 2012 projects will also focus on helping some of the world’s poorest communities build their skills and improve their natural environment.

 

The Initiative has supported 756 projects in over 150 countries since it was established in 1992. Funds have helped to protect the endangered pink river dolphins of Brazil and save the Madagascan Pochard the world’s most endangered duck. Funds have also helped newly discovered species such as the Burmese snub-nosed monkey, and provided support for local people to help this critically endangered species to survive. It is expected that the funding will allow the Initiative to help save many more species.

The Darwin Initiative assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to meet their objectives under one or more of the three major biodiversity Conventions, including CITES. For more information visit: http://darwin.defra.gov.uk/

Source: Defra < http://darwin.defra.gov.uk/ >

 

Circus to stop using animals

A number of animal welfare charities, including Animal Aid and the RSPCA, have reported that the Great British Circus has confirmed it will no longer use animals in its performances. Many welfare organisations have campaigned for a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses.

 

Earlier this year the government launched a consultation about the welfare of wild animals in travelling circuses. 93% of people taking part in the consultation agreed that core welfare standards should be put into the Regulations and supplemented with species-specific guidance and general guidance. Wild animals traditionally associated with travelling circuses would be included in the meaning of the definition such as bears, camels, elephants, large cats (e.g. lions and tigers), sea lions, snakes, and zebra.

A summary of responses to the consultation and the government’s response can be found at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/circus-animals-summary-responses-120712.pdf

Sources: Defra < http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/2012/03/01/circus-animals-1203/ > and Animal Aid < http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/AA/HOME/  > RSPCA < http://www.rspca.org.uk/media/news/story/-/article/Circuses_August12 >

 


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