Memorandum submitted by P Caruana (BTB
My name is Paul Caruana and I work for the Defra
Wildlife Unit (Polwhele) that is currently wrapping up the Krebs
Trial. I have worked in the Unit for 12 yearsfive as a
fields person, four as a Field Supervisor and the last three as
a Field Manager (Higher Scientific Officer). I have been involved
in the live testing regime of the early 1990s, the Badger Removal
Operations of the mid 1990s and the current Krebs Trial since
its inception. I feel that my experience as an ex-RAF Logistics
Officer and as an individual that has had lots of "hands
on" experience could be valuable to any balanced and rational
debate affecting the future policy in handling the current TB
To start with, I feel that I have enough anecdotal
evidence, gathered over my 12 years, to have a good feel for what
should have happened in the war against TB. Unfortunately, and
as I know only too well, this type of evidence isn't usually acceptable,
but here it comes anyway:
1. Badger removal operations worked
well when the land being culled was made fully available, not
just the area dictated to us by vets.
2. Where badgers were totally removed
from a farm, that farm, after it had its infected cattle culled,
often stayed clear of TB for up to 10 years.
3. We stayed on farms for up to three
months to ensure that ALL badgers were caughtunlike the
Krebs eight days per year trapping regime.
4. You do not need large scale culling
for it to be effective if the culling effort is robust from the
5. Krebs had too many anomalies and
weaknesses in the strategy for it to be successful. It took us
four years to steer away from trapping setts that had been interfered
with by Animal Rights Activist, to being able to trap badgers
anywhere in order to eliminate them. That is only one of a raft
of operational problems we faced and had to endure.
6. Limited trappingeight days
per year with Krebshas little effect if carried out late
in the yearthe effect being that areas went almost two
years without an effective cull.
7. The costs for a future culling policy
must NOT be based on Krebs costings. The Wildlife Unit have many
great ideas on how to reduce costs vastly should the State remain
involved in it. Give the Unit the chance to see how innovative
it can be when it comes to reducing operating costs. Krebs was
ridiculously expensive for what it delivered.
8. The Public and the NFU are demanding
that "professionals" remain involved to ensure adequate
training is given to those with the task to do, and to ensure
that animal welfare and humaneness remains a number one priority.
Overseeing the task will give some comfort to those who fear that
this might not be the way.
9. Compulsory entry onto farms is a
must when considering what Policy to adopt. Making farms who receive
Government subsidies participate in one of its schemes must be
made compulsory. Krebs has proven that wide scale non-cooperation
does make it nigh on impossible to operate effectively.
10. The Krebs Reactive strategy was prematurely
ended in my opinion. The results used also showed us that, in
areas we had never operated in (areas J2 and H1 which had a very
limited cull) also displayed the same increase in TB outside of
the areas. That has to have another logical reason for the increase,
as it clearly was not badger culling related. This point has yet
to be satisfactorily answered.
11. The combined knowledge of the staff involved
in all of the previous culling strategies has never been utilised
or sought when putting together a Policy. Why can't the common
sense approach ever be used when facing problems such as TB. We
feel that we have the answers, if only somebody would listen to
us. Details of the possible ways of operating are being submitted
to the TB Consultation committee.
12. Be prepared to change a policy, to let
it evolve, is a must. All strategies have seen staff restrained
in what they would like to do, often flying in the face of common
sense. Taking the riskisn't that what it often needs to
make things work properly? We have been shackled for too many
years by rules and red tapenow is the time to be radical
and make things change for the better.
I have probably said enough about the strategies
I have participated/operated under. I know that my staff feel
exactly the same way as I do on these matters. Scientists do not
have all of the answers, and most certainly, Krebs doesn't. The
Trial has far too many flaws in it to be trusted to produce meaningful
evidence. I know what happened on the groundthe scientists
only have the results we provided them with to work with. I know
that those results could and should have been much better and
useful than they currently are.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, working on the trial
at the grass root level has ever believed that operating under
the too strict and inflexible regime that Krebs put in place could
work successfully. All the common sense answers to everyday problems
were too often ignored because "things had to be carried
out scientifically" to mean anything. The whole basis of
Krebs was to remove badgers off of the ground. For the first four
years, that effort was farcical due to the restrictions placed
upon us. Repeated requests to change operating methods were ignored.
With that in mind, how much weight do we give to the latest ISG
report, detailing their "robust" findings to the Minister?
If it were down to me and my staff, very little.