An Broc (The Badger)

Newsletter of Badgerwatch (Ireland)


Autumn 2008




An Broc (The Badger) is the newsletter of Badgerwatch (Ireland).
5, Tyrone Avenue Waterford, Lismore lawn. Rep. of Ireland.
Co-ordinator; Bernie Barrett Ph. No: 00-353 (0)51-373876. Mobile number: 087-9394096



Proposed new Animal health and Welfare Bill

Public Consultation Process.

Will it help  get  our badgers out of  hot water ?


In future, welfare of all animals will be assigned to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food is currently drafting legislation to improve on previous animal welfare legislation to ensure  that the welfare of animals is properly protected and that the penalties for offenders are increased significantly.


Public Consultation

The Minister has undertaken to engage in public consultation in relation to the proposed Bill and now wishes to elicit the views of all who may have an interest in its content. A good deal of work has been undertaken already in drafting the proposed legislation and the views of interested parties are now being sought to assist with further work to be completed.


Interested parties have been  invited to submit written proposals, comments etc. on this for consideration prior to the completion of the drafting.  It is also intended that the Department will engage directly with a number of those parties who make submissions, giving them the opportunity to expand on their respective submissions.


This consultation process presents stakeholders with a unique opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process.  The Department is anxious that as wide a view as possible is canvassed and that the legislation is drafted in an informed manner, having regard to the respective submissions.


Submission to Animal Health and Welfare Bill on behalf of Badgerwatch (Ireland)



Part 3 of the Bill refers to:


§        ‘Protected animals’


§        ‘A specific duty of care to ensure the welfare and well-being of animals is adequately protected’


§        ‘The prevention of needless pain or unnecessary suffering’





§        It is our opinion that the ongoing snaring of badgers  for the purpose of ‘scientific research’  is presently one of the most serious animal welfare issues in the Republic of Ireland.  Badgerwatch will   propose that  you include wording  for a total ban on the snaring of badgers in the new Animal Health and Welfare Bill. 


§        As an interim measure, immediately cease the use of the barbaric multi-strand wire snare, as a trapping device for badgers. The alternative  is by means of the more humane cage-trap which is incidentally  the chosen method of our  badger-vaccine researchers.


§        The Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFF)  has failed to recognise the scandal of leaving orphaned cubs to die slow lingering deaths of starvation and hypothermia underground in extreme inaccessible places.


§        The Irish Government must, as an interim measure, provide a duty of care to the badger species by implementing a total ban on snaring during the  vulnerable breeding period, January 31st –to- May 31st to allow the species breed and rear its young.


The restraining harness aka the multi-strand wire snare has been an instrument of cruelty and suffering for the thousands of creatures, both targeted and non-targeted  species, unlucky enough to meet their end in it.


 The captured  animal is abandoned in a situation of high risk  unable to defend  itself, due to its trapped state.  It may be attacked by  other animals such as hunting  hounds or lurchers.  There is also an excellent opportunity for people engaged in badger-baiting activities to remove the animal for illegal purposes.


Badger snares are set the previous day  and must be checked by the trapper  at the latest time of 1pm the following day. It has been known that in cases, trappers fail to carry out the 24 hour regulatory checks required, usually at weekends, therefore  the length of time in a snare can be as high as 48 hours. The animal is without water/food for this period.


Snares are often set on ditches, leaving a snared  animal  struggling and digging unsuccessfully for the capture duration, trying to  secure a foot-hold. Terrified animals  injure themselves trying to escape from the snare. They dig into soil in circles until they are stressed out and exhausted. By pulling the snare to its limits, the animal’s body becomes  constricted into the small stop/loop of the snare which is a mere eleven inches in diameter. This is unacceptable cruelty by any standard.


Snaring of a nursing  female badger  gives rise to another  serious welfare problem.  Apart from the terror  of  the capture, she is denied her most powerful and natural instinct – to protect and nurse her dependent young.


Badgerwatch is claiming that under present legislation Ireland is failing to meet  its national and international obligations to protect   the badger. The use of a wire snare as a means of trapping the animal is failing to address the issues of needless pain/unnecessary suffering and lengthy abandonment of the animal.



. *Enclose photographic evidence where the Department wire snare  caused such severe injury to a badger that a vet found it necessary to euthanize the creature. In this case the trapper did not check snares over a weekend period, Friday – 1pm on Sunday. 





Meles Meles, the  Eurasian Badger is  identified as a protected species under the 1976 Wildlife Act and Amendment 2003 and The Convention  on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, commonly known as the Berne Convention. The Irish Government has been trapping/snaring badgers since the mid-eighties.  The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (DAFF) has  obtained  the necessary licence, sought for ‘Scientific Research’ purposes  from the National Parks and Wildlife Services  (NPWS).   Other sources have described this ‘research’  as ‘Slaughter masquerading as Science’.  The alleged role of the badger in the spread of bovine TB continues to be  a long-running controversy in Ireland. Robust scientific research in the USA and the UK  have ruled out  badger-culling as a permanent solution. The method of trapping the animal has always been by use of the multi-strand wire snare. The snare has been renamed in recent times and the D.A.F.F  now prefers to refer to it as  the ‘stopped restraining harness’.  This  specific badger snare  did not enjoy official recognition until recent times in the  Amended Wildlife Act until 2003.The role of the   wildlife conservation ranger has been almost totally  excluded from the  badger snaring programme in recent times and   they can no longer carry out the standard checks on farms as was once the normal procedure .  


Bernadette Barrett (Badgerwatch)




One example of  Government  trespass and unauthorised  badger snaring

The following  is part of this disturbing event


The Department of Agriculture came here on Monday 14th April, without my knowledge or permission, and laid about a dozen snares at two sites on the estate. They did not even have the courtesy to notify me, saying they called to the house but, as I wasn't here, thought that if I saw someone coming in and out to check snares I'd simply ask them what they were doing. I believe this smacks of stealth - they were simply hoping I wouldn't notice someone coming in and out.


J, who lives in a cottage on the estate, telephoned me at 7pm on Friday 18th April to say he had seen jeep tracks and discovered badger snares in the 'garden' and had disarmed them. I told him I would phone the Department first thing on Monday morning to question them about it.

On Sunday morning at 9am I let my two Border Collie dogs out but only one came back. I could hear the other barking, grabbed the pliers and went to investigate. He had found a snared badger. I put the dogs in and enlisted the help of J  to free the badger, which was somewhat distressed as the cable wire was tight around it's mid-rift. (See attached photos, one which shows Johnny using a forked stick to try to capture and hold the badger still to enable us to cut the cable)

It took us nearly an hour and a half to free this poor badger as the cable wire around its middle was tight against its body from the frenzy of struggling. It was impossible to get wire cutters or pliers between the badger's skin and the cable in order to cut it and, in the end, J had to cut the badger free by separating the strands of the wire and cutting them one by one. In the end the badger was freed and he ran off before we could loosen the cable around his middle. I was lucky neither of my dogs got caught - a neighbour's dog was caught in snares set at the same time on his land without him knowing.

Further to that, a local family had been up in the Fort area of Killegar with two small children the day before the snares were laid - the children could easily have been snared around their legs or worse. In particular at the top of the Fort where there are steep drops all around this might have been catastrophic.

Legislation governing the use of these snares dictates that they must be check by 12 noon every day. Clearly these snares had not been checked as those J had disarmed were in the same position as they had been on the Friday evening. This poor badger got caught in one we overlooked because it was set apart from the cluster of other snares. I don't know when he/she (bear in mind it is the breeding season) got caught but it may easily have been there for 40 hours

Later that Sunday I went to the Fort, the other area at Killegar where we have badgers and found seven other snares. Saw one snare with badly chewed wooden stake and pool of blood to the right hand side from the slaughter of the animal. The frantic chewing must have been done in a frenzy of terror. Several animals at a time may be caught - imagine the terror of witnessing fellow badgers being shot while being held fast in a snare.  Realising that, should the Department men returned to this remote area of Killegar they would simply re-arm the snares, I removed them.

On Monday morning at about 10.30am I went back down to the garden where the first badger had been caught, with the intention of removing any snares that were there, only to find a second badger trapped in another snare neither J nor I had seen.

The  other snares were still as they had been left on Friday evening. This time I videoed the extremely difficult release of the badger. The video shows two neighbours in their attempts to cut the wire around the badger's middle.

This poor animal had struggled so much that we had to use a blunt knife to lift the wire in order to get the pliers in place. There are two separate videos - the second shows the freed badger running away.

When the FRFS (Farm Relief Scheme, workers employed by Agriculture to kill badgers – editor )  calls to shoot and bag the snared badgers for post-mortem examination he also re-arms any snares. At 10.30am Monday morning it was clear that no-one had been to look at the snares since Friday - that's over 63 hours where an animal may have been trapped.

Bearing in mind it is the breeding season, it is heartbreaking to think that a mother badger may have been trapped and frantic to get back to her young. In the UK any trapping of badgers (in cages) is banned from 1 January to 30 April as it is breeding season.

I contacted the Department of Agriculture and a representative called out to see me on 24th April. He apologised for setting the snares without informing me. He explained that there had been an outbreak of TB in a herd near Killegar and that becomes known as the INDEX herd. 9. Where they laid snares in the Fort they had to climb over a locked gate, into a fenced off area where we have plantations of timber.

The area is fenced off to prevent cattle using it because of the plantations. The INDEX herd outbreak of TB occurred over six months ago. The herd has been free of TB for the past two-three months. When I asked why they were embarking on killing badgers here now, he   explained it was due to a backlog of work. This implies they are systematically killing so many badgers they simply can't keep up.



More unwelcome news…..Despite the fact the Northern Ireland has  reduced its levels of BTB by 50% since 2002 without  killing badgers,  farmers  are now  calling for a cull.  Why?

In Northern IrelandBadgers may be culled to stop disease spreading

Irish News Tuesday 22 September 2008

By Claire Simpson


The Department of Agriculture and Rural development has been granted a licence to capture up to 1,000 badgers. These badgers could be killed in a bid to halt the spread of animal tuberculosis.


Up TO 1,000 badgers found to be infected with tuberculo­sis could be killed for the first time in Northern Ire-land in a bid to halt the spread of the disease in cattle. Badgers are protected animals under Northern Ireland law but farmers have long called for a cull to protect their livestock.


The Department of the Environment (DOE) has now granted a licence to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), allowing it to capture up to 1,000 badgers. If an animal is found to be infected with TB then it can be shot. It will be the first time DARD has attempted to see how many of the north's 33,500 badgers are infected with the disease.


Previously only badgers who were killed on the roads were tested for TB. Cases of the disease are on the in-crease, with around £21 million in com­pensation paid last year to farmers whose cattle were infected. A positive test quarantines a farm for months until all the animals are clear of TB.Farmers' unions in the north and Britain have insisted a selective badger cull is the only way to stop its spread. However, many conservationists and scientists claim there is no conclusive evidence that infected badgers pass the disease to cattle.


A DARD spokesman said the licence allowed it to take "a limited number of badgers... to determine the levels of TB in those badgers.  The proposal is still in the planning stages and no final decision has yet been made to go ahead with it," he said.


Ulster Farmers' Union president Gra­ham Furey said it wanted diseased badgers "to be removed from the countryside-.


"Thousands of farm animals are slaughtered every year but this is hav­ing little effect because farmers firmly believe that the disease remains preva­lent in wildlife, particularly badgers." he said. When farms are re-stocked, the ani­mals are simply contracting the dis­ease again because it has remained on the farm in the badger population.


"Farmers want decisive action to be taken and diseased badgers removed from the countryside; this would be both an animal welfare friendly deci­sion and would provide the break-through the farming industry needs to obtain a TB free status." However, Andrew Upton from the Ul­ster Wildlife Trust said he was "very concerned about the lack of informa­tion coming to us" about the testing of badgers.




Elin Jones "slams the door on open Government" say conservationists 

 19 September 2008


 The Welsh Assembly Government has officially refused to identify the

 members of the secretive bodies planning the slaughter of badgers in

 Wales, or disclose the minutes and papers of the six meetings held so

 far.  But worst of all, it has claimed that public demonstrations

 against badger culling have directly led to criminal offences against



 In a late response to a request for the information from Badger Trust

 Cymru, Welsh Assembly Government officials claim that disclosure of

 the membership and deliberations of the TB Technical Advisory Group

 and Programme Board "would result in policy being based on evidence

 and advice that may have been influenced or prejudiced by the actions

 of external individuals or groups".


 Steve Clark from Badger Trust Cymru commented:


"Elin Jones has effectively slammed the door on open Government.  She

is clearly terrified that we will expose the inevitable flaws in any

badger cull that these secret groups are planning.  Yet the groups

themselves are prejudiced, apparently packed with pro-cull farmers and

the vets who work for them."


 But Badger Trust Cymru was most shocked by the claim in the rejection

 letter that "there have already been demonstrations by different

 groups in relation to possible policy options, which have in a number

 of cases resulted in illegal action against the property of



Steve Clark said: "This appalling statement might have come from the

Kremlin.  It suggests that members of the public in Wales who have

demonstrated against badger culling are in some way also directly

responsible for illegal damage to property.  That is a shocking

accusation and we will be demanding an apology from the Minister.


"It shows just how low Elin Jones is prepared to sink.  She has

resorted to the cheap tactic of portraying nature conservationists who

lead perfectly ordinary, respectable lives in the community as the

 instigators of criminal behaviour."



New year decision on badger cull  - Reported 24Sept 2008


A decision on a controversial cull of badgers will not be made until the New Year, it was announced.The Welsh Assembly Government caused outrage among conservation groups in April when Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones announced the plans in a bid to stamp out tuberculosis in cattle.The administration is sinking £27 million into a programme to eradicate the disease, which officials say is out of control, from the countryside.

The decision on whether a badger cull will go ahead and, if so, where, will not be formulated until information is collated and reviewed on its feasibility and effectiveness.


The Welsh Assembly Government will also want to scrutinise the legality of such action as they have been threatened with a judicial review if they decide to go ahead with the plans. Groups such as the Badger Trust have highlighted the findings of the UK Government's Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB which reported in June last year that killing wildlife was not an effective way to control the disease in cattle.



Culling caused badgers to move more freely and more widely, increasing the spread of the disease, it found.Ms Jones is expected to make a decision on the merits of a badger cull in the new year. In the meantime, an exhaustive one-off test of the estimated 13,800 herds across Wales will begin in a bid to build a clear picture of the extent of the disease.


Speaking of the plans, Ms Jones said: "The TB Health Check Wales will start on October 1 and means 3,500 additional herds being tested in a period of 15 months ending on December 31, 2009. In effect this means that in 15 months we will be testing herds that would have normally taken four years to test."To date, Wales is the only area of the UK that has taken this decisive action, part of a meticulous, step-by-step campaign constructed in Wales to remove this damaging and costly disease."


Government ignores plight of hare

Photo: © Andrew Kelly


John Fitzgerald

Lower Coyne St


Co. Kilkenny

IRELAND’S appalling record on safeguarding endangered wildlife species has come into the spotlight again, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminding us that key habitats requiring special attention are being neglected by the present government.

The reminder is timely, because the enlightened EU Habitats Directive appears to have been completely ignored by a government that for the first time in Irish history includes the “principled” Green Party. Last year, the European Court of Justice ruled that Ireland has inadequate conservation safeguards for species specifically protected by law in this country

Major financial penalties may be imposed on Ireland if the government continues to drag its feet on implementing the Habitats Directive, a fate surely to be avoided in the present economic climate, apart altogether from the incumbent heritage and conservation issues. High on the list of native species drawn up by our Parks and Wildlife Service and designated as having “poor conservation status” is the Irish hare, a creature renowned in Celtic mythology and one that graces our ecosystem.

The habitats of the hares are disturbed and torn apart by gangs of men rounding up members of this “high risk” species for coursing. The coursing clubs themselves attest to this fact. Wildlife Service reports on baiting events obtained under FoI reveal that clubs had great difficulty last season finding enough hares for coursing. This is well known to the Department of the Environment. Yet we have this incredible situation whereby the Government, cocking its collective nose at the Habitats Directive, has given coursing clubs carte blanche to harass, exploit, and kill members of an “at risk” species for fun and games. The whole farce is compounded by the fact that it is a government that includes the Green Party that is authorising this rape of our wildlife heritage.

I do not doubt the personal integrity of Environment Minister John Gormley, or even that of the Green Party itself, in their vociferous pre-election opposition to hare coursing but the Government’s so-called “environmental policy” on wildlife conservation in general, and its attitude to the humble Irish hare in particular, is contemptible.






Co-ordinator:  Bernadette Barrett

5, Tyrone Avnenue

Lismore lawn


Tel:  00-353 ++(O)  51373876





Views expressed in An Broc are not necessarily those of Badgerwatch

(Ireland)  May 2008


Next newsletter will be in September.









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