The thirteenth Annual General Meeting of the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management (VAWM) took place this week in the impressive setting of Duns Castle in Berwickshire.
The day started early out with the Berwickshire Hunt in almost perfect weather, more than justifying the long journey north for many VAWM members. Last year VAWM produced a definitive book on wildlife management and the sales of The Facts of Rural Life has provided an opportunity to expand the important work of this body of veterinarians and the influence they can bring to the various debates concerning wild animals.
Topics on the agenda ranged from future presentations and exhibition stands to concerns about the attempts to curb bovine TB and repeal of the Hunting Act.
Recently talks at university vet schools have produced very positive responses, indicating that those dedicating their lives to animal welfare understand the need for wildlife management and the use of scenting hounds as part of that process. A further presentation has been arranged in the near future and remaining vet schools with be contacted offering similar talks.
It was agreed that VAWM strengthens its message to parliamentarians by arranging a day at Westminster to promote a proper understanding of management, this being central to numerous wildlife issues that are considered difficult and controversial, including hunting with hounds. VAWM has made submissions to the Bonomy review of hunting in Scotland and to the current grouse shooting debate at Westminster.
Concern was expressed at the way in which the vaccination of badgers to curb bovine TB was being reported. While VAWM supports the principle of the now widened badger cull and welcomes DEFRA’s stance, the organisation feels that the method of shooting has limitations. Identification of infected setts and the use of a humane fumigant would be far more preferable and less likely to attract criticism. VAWM does not believe vaccination works and now a world-wide shortage of the BCG vaccine only adds to the problem.
The day ended with dinner in Duns Castle. Guest speaker was Trevor Adams, formerly of the Duke of Buccleuch’s Foxhounds, giving an excellent talk on his life in hunting with hounds, which seems to have covered the whole of the UK and, on one occasion, included a reasonably civilised meeting with a famously anti-hunting Beatle!