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In the Republic of Ireland, approximately 7,000 badgers (an Broc in our native tongue) are culled every year in what the Department of Agriculture needs to be seen as action to eradicate bovine tuberculosis. A similar culling programme in the UK failed to eradicate bTB after decimating the badger population – there has never been any scientific research or evidence to show that badgers are responsible for outbreaks of bTB.
Some key facts:
- Since badger culling began in the ROI in 1989, over 100,000 have been snared and killed.
- bTB levels stubbornly remain at a rate of approximately 3%.
- POST-HUMOUS TESTING HAS REPEATEDLY FOUND THAT 80-90% OF CULLED BADGERS ARE ACTUALLY FREE OF TB.
- There is no season for culling - as it occurs all year round cubs are left to starve to death in their setts after their parents have been snared.
- The cattle population in the ROI stands at 6,673,000 and growing. It is not known what the current badger population is, but it is believed to be in the region of just 70,000 and declining.
- The likelihood that bTB is transmitted from cattle to badger where an outbreak of the disease occurs in both animals in a given area is never explored or taken into consideration (although it is believed that that is how badgers first contracted the disease. However, given the size of a badger in comparison to a cow, the badger will naturally be the first to develop lesions from the disease even when the cow was the transmitter.)
- In Cumbria, England, it was recently announced by Secretary of State, Michael Gove, that 42,000 badgers are to be culled over the next year after a recent outbreak of bTB. This TB was found in badgers but was aslo found to have actually originated in cattle that were shipped in from N.I. to Cumbria. Because of poor cattle husbandry and no bTB testing carried out prior to their transportation abroad, 42,000 vulnerable and susceptible badgers are to be killed en masse even though the primary route of TB transmission is from cattle to cattle.
- Apart from vaccination being first and foremost humane, sensible and responsible, a long-term vaccination programme is also more cost effective than constantly paying contractors to carry out the cull (the cost of the cull naturally falls on the tax payer: €70 million since 2011 alone). Contractors are reportadly paid €280 for every snared badger they cull.
- In 2012 only 55 less cattle tested positive for bTB from the previous year after €3.4 million had been spent in 2011 culling up to 7,000 badgers.
- Badgers are already threatened by road death, habitat destruction and illegal activities like hunting and badger baiting – continuing the cull will likely critically endanger them.
- An Broc has a protected status under Irish and European law – this status means nothing when 6,000 snares are laid down every night in this reckless, pointless and shameful Government policy. Because the government have classed this nationwide culling as an 'experiment', the badger's protected status can be swept aside by them under EU law.
- Although Minister Creed announced at the beginning of this year that a vaccination programme will be introduced in the future and culling "gradually phased out" this is not happening yet or soon enough. This needs to have happened already.
In Northern Ireland and in Wales a fairly successful TB management programme is in place. Badgers are captured and tested for TB. If their tests are negative they are vaccinated and returned to their home. If they test positive, they are unfortunately put down. Bovine TB is at a much lower rate in the North of Ireland than in the Republic and the vulnerable badger there is also protected not just from culling but also from the disease after vaccination.
What is stopping the Department of Agriculture in the Republic of Ireland from adopting such a long-term effective strategy instead of the reckless slaughter that they continue to pursue?
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