Some weeks ago I wrote about bovine TB and how badgers are being slaughtered because it is believed that they pass on this horrible disease to cattle. I also mentioned about the increasing number of counties in which the badgers are to be culled. This is not a pleasant subject to consider and it has divided animal lovers all over the country. Nobody wants to see the cull of a beautiful animal but on the other hand nobody, I am sure, wants to see magnificent cattle having to be slaughtered. The arguments for and against this action will probably rumble on especially as new evidence about bTB is being found. I feel it is such an important subject that I have no hesitation in coming back to it again.
Jonathan Leake, Environmental Editor of the Sunday Times, wrote an alarming report on the latest findings about bTB in which he remarked, rather surprisingly, that the disease appears to have spread from cattle to wild animals such as rats, foxes, deer and badgers. Badgers are currently being culled because, we are led to believe, that they infect cattle and not the other way round. There was a very fine photo in the Sunday Times of a lioness at Paignton Zoo which was put down because it had bTB through eating diseased cow meat. Vets fighting this disease say that hundreds of pet cats have also been diagnosed with bTB through eating infected mice, rats and moles. DEFRA say it is quite helpless in fighting this disease. Mr Leek is of the opinion that bovine TB is spread mainly by farmers moving cattle with possibly yet undiscovered infection between farms. The cattle, says Mr Leake, then give the disease to wild animals meaning the bTB is now embedded in our countryside. As far back as 2013, DEFRA’s chief scientist, Ian Boyd, suggested that bTB would spill over to wild animals, pets, new livestock species and potentially to humans. DEFRA also said that bovine TB is the greatest animal health threat to the UK and that their target for eradicating this disease is 2038! It seems that culling thousands of badgers may not be the answer to this problem.
An article by Sarah Chambers, the Food and Farming Editor of the EADT, revealed a “real game-changer” in the battle against bTB. Dr Berwyn Clarke, Chief Executive of PB Biotech based at Thurston near Bury St Edmunds believes that the real issue lies not with the badger but in cattle where bTB lies undiscovered until it is too late. This Suffolk firm has developed a new bovine test which they hope will eradicate this disease completely. There are many hurdles to overcome but we can only hope and pray.
It seems that the police are cracking down on drug dealing across Suffolk especially in Ipswich where dealers, travelling here from London, ply their trade known as ‘county lines’. Needles and other drug related items are often found in the Wildlife Reserve area. This serious problem in a beautiful landscape such as Christchurch Park presents a much darker side. Those who once considered a stroll along the paths by the Wilderness Pond now choose not to do so. Last week the police chased a man out of Park thought to be dealing with Class A drugs. He was not caught but a description of him was given. I quote: “Male, black, aged 21, black matching Adidas tracksuit, black trainers, black rucksack and black cap”. A good description indeed but if he was not caught, funny how his precise age was quoted. Over 150 persons have been arrested across the county in the first 6 months of this year in connection with the supply of Class A drugs. I think it is important that the public should be aware of what is going on in our Park but doesn’t it make you sad?