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Animal Welfare Update

Thursday, July 31, 2014

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.

Mass cull of badgers is not the most effective way to stamp out bovine TB

A recent report suggests that the only way to end the surge of bovine TB is not by a mass cull of badgers, as originally intended by the government. Research produced shows that cattle testing and cattle vaccination will be considerably more successful in stopping the spread of the epidemic than a widespread badger cull.

Plans for widespread culls were dropped in 2013 by Owen Paterson, then Secretary of State for DEFRA, after pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset were judged to be ineffective and inhumane by an independent expert panel.  The pilot culls failed to kill enough badgers in the allotted time and led to badgers escaping and spreading TB to other groups of badgers and therefore cattle.

Robbie Macdonald from the University of Exeter states that the concept of culling badgers in order to prevent cattle from being infected “is likely to yield unimpressive results and contribute little biologically to controlling a national epidemic”.

Others suggest that the vaccination of badgers and stricter control on the movement of cattle to stop cows spreading tuberculosis to other cows are the only way to combat disease. In Wales, where a planned badger cull was abandoned, the number of cattle slaughtered has fallen from 11,671 in 2009 to 6,102 in 2013, a 48% drop, following more rigorous testing. The number of cattle slaughtered in Great Britain fell by 15% in 2013 following some new controls being introduced in England.

Meg Munn MP has highlighted her objections to the badger cull many times in the House of Commons and in correspondence with Ministers, and will take any opportunity to do so again.

Report on alternative methods to end Bovine TB:



Promised ban on wild animals in travelling circuses not included in the Queen’s speech

Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron promised campaigners: "We’re going to do it”. Furthermore, a draft Bill to make the use of wild animals in these circuses illegal had been drawn up by the government.

However there was no guaranteed pledge to turn the Bill into a law and many feel it has simply been pushed to one side as part of the initiative from Tory strategist Lynton Crosby to slim down the Coalition’s legislative programme.

The British Veterinary Association has expressed disappointment that plans to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses have not been included in the Queen’s Speech.

RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “The impact of circuses on animal welfare is serious and potentially debilitating for each and every animal involved. Animals are forced to endure the constant travel, cramped temporary cages, and noisy conditions of a circus”.

The impacts of using wild animals in travelling circuses has been highlighted recently when a video of big cats in Peter Jolly’s Circus was released on YouTube showing signs of Stereotypy in the cats, which is one of range of abnormal, repetitive behaviours not seen in the wild, but commonly observed in the circus, indicating compromised welfare and suffering.

Meg Munn MP has raised this issue with the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the Natural Environment and Science at DEFRA.

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8DDuzgYqqY

The Campaign: http://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/captivity/circuses


Antibiotics resistance crisis

The members of the UK Science and Technology Committee held an inquiry into antimicrobial resistance and in a report published on the 7th July state (recommendation 10, page 39): ‘We recommend that ... the government takes action to ensure the use of antibiotics in farm animals is strictly required for therapeutic use.’  

The chair of the science and technology committee, Andrew Miller MP, said: "The link between human and animal pathogens antibiotic resistance has not been conclusively proven, but we believe the government should be taking precautionary action to ensure that antibiotics are only being used on sick animals."

Just under half of all antibiotics in the UK are fed to farm animals, often when no disease is present. We must put an end to the overuse of antibiotics to sustain cruel and inhumane farming systems and improve living conditions for the animals living in them leading to an increased resistance to infection due to their environment and not antibiotics.

Science and Technology Committee Report:



‘7 out of 10 people want a complete end to cosmetics testing on animals’

In the EU, using animals for testing cosmetics products and their ingredients has been banned since 2009. In March 2013 an EU-wide sales ban came into force, which prohibits cosmetics products or ingredients newly tested on animals outside of the EU from ending up on our shelves.

However, consumers should be aware that many well-known cosmetics companies continue to test their products or ingredients on animals outside of the EU to sell in other parts of the world. or choose to introduce new products to countries where the authorities require mandatory animal testing.

There are already more than 20,000 chemical ingredients available to producers of cosmetics products that are considered to be safe, so there is no excuse for any more animals to suffer.

The EU sales ban has already had a knock-on-effect with countries like Israel, India and Brazil introducing improved practices and legislation.

The campaign: http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/makeover


Hannah the Spider has returned!

Hannah the spider has been returned to her home at Heeley City Farm and appears to be healthy and safe. She was found in a plastic container near the cardboard area and the farm plan to set up a new Terrarium for her.

More information on Heeley City Farm: http://www.heeleyfarm.org.uk/ 

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