DEFRA Ministers are to be most warmly congratulated on their adroit political handling of the “Badger TB Problem”.

Urgent critically important culls could have started at the end of May, with the end of closed cubbing-dependency season, but Liz Truss only got round to announcing, rather predictably on Friday, August 28, just before Bank Holiday Monday, that one additional cull area in Dorset had been licensed. (the one scrapped at the 11th hour in 2014 by Nick Clegg !) George Eustice has since insisted in parliamentary debate (September 10), that this is a cautious roll-out, Not a Pilot, with probably Devon & Hereford rejected this time, for next year.

Amusing that Owen Paterson not so long ago was promising 30-40 new roll-outs by now.

Hard to see how the three culls this year (with Gloucestershire/Somerset) of a further 1800 badgers, will do the slightest good (2,474 so far).

Only 1.65 per cent super-infectious badgers would be under a dozen which might be a risk to cows from 450 sq km.

The most magnificent aspect of these politicised pseudo-scientific new strategies is that DAFTA have accidentally done a 100 per cent U-turn without apparently realising it!

There have always been two types of cattle skin test reactors without or later with visible lung “tubercle” lesions.

But finding reactors in new herd breakdowns which have not yet reached the stage of having confirmatory visible lung lesions, has meant that badgers have been blamed for all these non-visible lesion ie, unconfirmed reactors/breakdowns.

DEFRA also launched three consultations on the 28th, on cull licensing, non-bovines, and most importantly on improving TB controls (See DEFRA Website/Consultations).

Buried in the small print, in the latter, in Section 6 it has at last been recognised that these reactors are merely early TB cases, so will be regarded as confirmed reactors, the posh version under EC rules is that OFT-S now become OTF-W ie.

Officially TB-Free-Suspended/Withdrawn).

This means that all the new herd breakdowns allegedly “due to badgers” have after all merely been caused by, and first identified by these early TB cattle.

That culls the last “scientific rationale” for badger culls.

DEFRA do not seem to have publicised their request for contributions, but anyone can reply to

Martin Hancox