An Broc (The Badger) is the newsletter of Badgerwatch (Ireland)

Winter 2016

5, Tyrone Avenue, Waterford.   





State moves away from killing badgers and will vaccinate them instead but is it too little, too late?

Badgers to be vaccinated to stamp out TB in cattle

Badgers are to be vaccinated as part of the State’s effort to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) in cattle, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has confirmed. Describing it as a “major shift”, Mr. Creed said the decision was “not a silver bullet” but was backed up by “years of scientific research” funded by his department.   Over 100,000 badgers have been snared and shot unnecessarily over several decades, without reducing the spread of bovine TB. Mr. Creed stopped short of ending culling of badgers, but said that vaccination of badgers would become an “integral part” of the plan to eradicate TB in cattle, from this month. It said that while badgers are nominally a protected species, Department of Agriculture figures show that in some 6,161 badgers were “slaughtered” in 2016, including nursing mothers, and this left young to starve in their underground setts. To date, more than 100,00 badgers have been culled by DAFM.   These are the validates figures from the  Minister’s own Department,  obtained by Badgerwatch over the years.

Mr. Creed said that vaccination of badgers would be carried out by staff from his department, beginning in the areas where field trials had demonstrated “the effectiveness of badger vaccination”. The vaccination programme will apply the Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine, similar to that used in humans. “It will roll out incrementally to other parts of the country over time, with vaccination gradually replacing the need to remove badgers,” Mr. Creed said.

Bovine TB is caused by Mycobacterium bovis, which can also infect badgers and there has been ongoing debate over the level of transmission back to cattle by the animals. Mr. Creed’s department noted that Ireland is a signatory of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife, and is committed to protecting Irish wildlife, and the long-term removal of badgers is “not a sustainable or desirable strategy”. 

The Minister is almost certainly unaware of depositions  from Badgerwatch, to the same Bern Convention regarding the use of the multi-strand wire snare and  the unceasing of trapping  for the duration of the animals’ breeding season  which culminated in dependent cubs abandoned underground  when nursing sows were trapped and killed.  We understand that trapping procedures are required to retain 20% of  populations in order to avoid total wipe-out  of badgers  in any locality.    This has been ignored.   Trappers  continue snaring  until full clearance of  all setts has been achieved.

Badger numbers are now at a critical level.  Our once healthy population of circa 200,000  has been reduced to no more than 75,000 to 80,ooo.  The future looks bleak.  Snaring is set to continue along side the vaccine.  In the coming years, the animal will have to cope with thousands killed annually on our roads, possibly the usual 6,000 taken out every year by DAFM and  the numbers killed illegally in badger –baiting  sessions we can but guess but is said to be high.  It will be an up-hill struggle for the animal.



Monaghan sees an upsurge in BTB levels. Irish Indo. 14-8- 2018

A major TB outbreak in Monaghan is threatening to spiral out of control, farmer leaders in the county have warned. The Department of Agriculture has written to herd owners in the county this week and confirmed that the rate of TB herd infection and number of reactor animals locally is multiple times the national average. Farmers fear a raft of further herd depopulations will be ordered as part of the Department of Agriculture drive to bring the outbreak under control. In addition, hundreds of more herds will have animal movement restrictions imposed in order to limit the spread of the disease. Frank Brady of Monaghan IFA said farmers in the county were "living in fear" as a result of the widespread restrictions and herd depopulations.
"The Department officials are doing their best but they are going to have to tackle the source and I believe that badgers and deer are going to have to be looked at to see what can be done," he added. "For a county that has gone from being one of the lowest (for TB infection) to the worst in two years, there has to be a reason and we have to get serious about the source of the infection - farmers' livelihoods are at stake and the cause has to be tackled," Mr. Brady said.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed that 6.13pc of all herds in Co Monaghan tested for TB to the end of July 2018 have experienced a new breakdown. The breakdown rate is more than double the national average, while the reactors per 1,000 tests stands at 5.12 which is almost three times the national average. "The rise in the TB incidence in Monaghan is multi-factorial and will require a range of measures to address the issue," the Department letter stated. "The Department has devised a tailored programme for Monaghan following consultation with staff in the local office and stakeholders in the area. This represents a coordinated, rigorous plan to get on top of the TB problems in Monaghan," the  Department maintained.
Targets (continued)

“This targeted programme will focus on such areas as epidemiology, contiguous programmes, gamma interferon testing, cleansing and disinfection, testing compliance and frequency, and isolation of reactors," the letter explained.  
Farmers are advised to fence-off badger sets, only use raised troughs for livestock feeding and badger-proof farm buildings by covering the lower part of access gates to sheds.

"Action has to be taken to get to the root of the spread of infection and all identified reactors must be removed as quickly as possible to restrict further spread," said ICMSA beef chair Des Morrison. The ICSA's Hugh Farrell described the TB situation in Monaghan as a real concern, and he claimed that matters in the county could "get worse before they get better".




Letters received:

Pope’s Message points to our Irish hare


At the World Meeting of Families concert singer Rita Connolly gave a beautiful rendition of The Deer’s Cry, a time-honoured Prayer of Protection attributed to Saint Patrick.


  An apt choice for the occasion because the lyrics resonated with the Pope’s own frequently expressed concern for nature and the environment. In a 2015 encyclical he lambasted the wilful destruction of tropical forests, man-made climate change, and other forms of ecological vandalism.


  The  encyclical also alluded to the plight of wildlife species, lamenting the fact that “we see other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination.”


  As Rita Connolly held the vast audience in Croke Park enthralled with her angelic voice, images of species in need of urgent protection appeared fleetingly on the giant video screen behind her. As well as the polar bear and the panda, we saw the hare.
  Its fortunes vary, but here in Ireland it is under intense pressure from both loss of habitat and the ghoulish activities of coursing clubs. Recently, the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht issued a licence permitting another coursing season.
  Netting of hares has already begun. Apart from the stress, injury, and death that will occur on the coursing fields, there has been a noticeable decline in the Irish hare population.


  Last August ecologist Karina Dingerkus stated on RTE’s Mooney Goes Wild that “over the last 50 years, hare numbers have declined significantly”, adding that “they’re in trouble.”


  If the government doesn’t act decisively to protect the Irish Hare, it may be doomed to the same fate as the curlew, whose demise was ignored by successive Ministers with responsibility for wildlife until the bird was close to extinction.
  In 2015, the Pope, who took the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, a man who abhorred animal cruelty, tweeted a line from the Catholic Catechism: “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.”
  I was reminded of that quote when I heard Rita Connolly sing The Deer’s Cry and saw the vibrant, evocative image of the hare on the video screen. I would implore the Taoiseach and all our politicians to take pity on the persecuted Irish Hare and put an end to Ireland’s most barbaric blood sport.

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Sulky racing on public roads.

As some of our Politicians try to get scramblers under new Irish legislation and other TDs shout about cycle rickshaws being dangerous, the elephant in the room i.e. sulky racing is treated with silence. When we enquire about sulkies, we are shuffled from the Dept of Agriculture to Department of Transport to the Gardai.  No one wants to know.
Sulky racing causes extreme suffering, distress and death to horses nationwide and also poses an unacceptably high risk to public safety.
A young horse was seriously injured when it broke free from a sulky. The drivers were then forced to pull on the Kilkenny to Waterford Road and finally smashing into an oncoming vehicle. The driver of the vehicle was uninjured but was left badly shaken by the incident. Due to the severity of the horses’s  injuries, a vet had to be called to the scene to euthanize the horse.

Driving young horses and ponies flat out at excessive speed on Ireland’s busy roads, often by young children, is seriously risking lives -   their own,  other innocent road users and horses.

All it takes is one trip or stumble from a  horse which may be fatal, cause a significant injury to the horse or cause a serious road traffic collision. One  motorist  was forced to swerve off the road after she encountered five cars driving across both lanes.  This happens where sulky racing involves the race followers flanking all sides to allow the race  go unhampered.

Gardai  are investigating one incident and are believed to be considering a number of charges including endangerment, animal cruelty and neglect. CCTV footage of the shocking incident shows the harnessed horse racing down the road before it smashed into a stop sign.

In another  incident the horse smashed into an oncoming car. The family of a young  boy killed in an accident involving a sulky  on a public road say they hope new regulations can prevent further loss of life. The twelve year old  sustained catastrophic injuries after he was thrown from a sulky  and caught under the axles of an oncoming truck.

Are horse owners not required by law to have their horses and ponies  passported/chipped?  Is it not an offence to have children under the age of 16 years in charge of a horse/pony on a public road?

It  also brings into question, in the case of an accident, who pays for the damage and personal injuries that may be incurred by a third party? It’s past time for clarification.  It’s also past time to call stop. No road user or unfortunate animal should have to suffer the consequences arising out of any   mishap wished upon them in an encounter with this  lately acquired activity.


Name and address c/o editor



The book  reviewed below is due for Publication shortly:

An Irish hare takes on its deadliest foe.

Author: John fitzgerald.


If Watership Down was a PR boost for rabbits, here’s an equally deserved accolade to the gentle hare, an animal fêted in song and folklore. Tipsy the Hare takes on the deadliest foe of his species. A terrifying challenge awaits him... in a land where enemies abound and cruelty is worshipped like a minor god. For Tipsy, a hare living on an off-shore island, life is good, if not always wonderful: The winter months are tough...hares squabble among themselves as all creatures do ...over food, love, ruffled egos. And there’s the falcon that hovers high above and occasionally swoops to snatch a leveret (baby hare) from the world of the living.

Despite its drawbacks, Tipsy loves the familiar terrain: The soft sandy beach; the undulating fields and steep hills, rich in plant life; the lake with its calm pale blue surface that reflects the changing patterns of the sky; the bird colony where storm petrels co-exist peacefully with the hares; and the cave on the far side of the island where dwells the Golden Hare, spiritual leader of all the hares who rarely ventures out of his abode.

Tipsy is no ordinary hare. From birth he has been gifted with psychic powers, including the ability to converse with other species and out-run all other hares. The seasons come and go, and the hares get on with their lives. But danger looms across the ocean, on the Big Island known as Ireland.

From that fearful land boats arrive at dawn in the season of the fallen leaves. From the moment the Humaniks splash ashore nothing is the same again. The invaders are members of Ballycrossways Coursing Club, who aim to capture as many hares as they can for their live baiting fixture back on Broc Peninsula.

The invasion leaves the island hares devastated and terrified. The Golden Hare, having listened to their pleas, summons Tipsy to his cave. He has a mission for him that, if successful, will deliver from persecution the hares of both his own island home and the ones who dwell on the Big Island across the sea. And Tipsy is told by the Great One that a Humanik female will assist him in his mission.

      Other animals also feature in the novel. Tipsy comes to the aid of a badger and a fox, creatures unknown to his island home that he meets on the mainland.The Adventures of Tipsy is an impassioned plea on behalf of an animal that threatens no-one and yet must bear the brunt of man’s inhumanity.





Views expressed in An Broc may not necessarily be those of Badgerwatch (Ireland)


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