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Concerns raised over cost of bTB vaccines
NFU Cymru criticises cost of alternative bovine TB eradication

A year after the Welsh Government decided not to proceed with its planned badger culling programme, the National Farmers Union Cymru has attacked the alternative eradication scheme.

Deputy president of the union Stephen James said that according to the "Year I Report", the total cost of vaccinations so far amounts to £943,000. This figure, he continued, has covered the cost of vaccinating 1,424 badgers at £662 per jab.

"Here we are with a policy that in our opinion was not supported by the evidence put forward within the scientific review commissioned by the Welsh Government that is costing nearly £1 million annually to deliver a vaccine costing £26,000."

It was announced this week that additional measures will be introduced in Wales to provide a higher level of protection against bovine TB. Speaking in a Senedd Plenary session Environment Minister John Griffiths confirmed that some existing pre-movement testing exemptions will be amended, and a dedicated TB epidemiologist will be appointed by April.

However, Shadow Rural Affairs Minister, Antoinette Sandbach, has also expressed concerns over the spiralling costs of the badger vaccination pilot.

"The disease continues to spread, while the Welsh Government pursues a costly gamble with trial vaccination," she said. "Movement restrictions are being tightened, increasing costs and paperwork on farmers, while the most cost effective methods of eradicating TB are ignored and TB reserve in wildlife is not being tackled.

"It is alarming that £662 has been spent for each badger vaccinated yet the number of cattle being killed has increased since the vaccine was introduced."

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.