An Broc (The Badger) is the newsletter of Badgerwatch
Co-ordinator: Bernadette Barrett, 5, Tyrone Avenue, Lismore Lawn, Waterford. Irish Republic.
+353 (0) 51-373876.
Madge, the badger cub snuggles up for a really cosy snooze with her two canine friends, Poppy and Carrie. See overleaf for her story.
March is by far, the peak time for members of the public to come across abandoned cubs and each year Badgerwatch is contacted by people who anonymously undertake the dedicated work of hand-rearing the youngsters. Madge is one of last year’s cubs. Jenny took on the role of adoptive ‘mum’. Like all newly-found cubs, Madge needed lots of care and nourishment. She settled into her new home, thrived and in due course quickly learned, as most cubs do, to raid that wonderful place where all class of goodies are to be found, the fridge.
Madge was one of the lucky ones. Many orphaned cubs are far too young to survive because they lack a fully developed immune system. Others are unable to make it over-ground unaided. Their plight goes unrecorded and they die underground of starvation and hypothermia. Here in Ireland, our Government eradicates thousands of badgers every year for ‘scientific research’. Problems arise when their eradication programme continues to snare badgers, including nursing sows, throughout the breeding season. It has consistently refused to recognise the urgent need for a closed season to allow the animal to rear its young.
One of the foremost anxieties that accompanies cub-rearing is what to do when it’s time for releasing them back to the wild. It’s the nightmare that all of us have to contend with eventually. Safe release sites are very difficult to find and to be brutally honest there’s absolutely nowhere safe in Ireland for young badgers to have a reasonable chance of survival. Badger-baiting gangs freely roam the countryside, safe in the knowledge that the chances of them being caught are practically non-existent. To add to this, thousands of badgers are killed on our roads. Cubs have a high mortality rate and 50% of them fail to complete their first year of life. Tragic.
Madge eventually set up home nearby in the woodland. “She now has a sett, if you can call one hole a sett in the woods, we managed to follow her home one morning. She has a hole under a rocky outcrop. It seems a very safe place well away from any tracks and impossible to dig because of the rock overhead. She goes to the woods most mornings but occasionally visits home at night. She seems to want our company, and that of the dogs. She is really gentle now and never bites, however she is very hard on doors, she does not take no for an answer and will try to breakdown a door if it is in her way”.
Madge will, in due course achieve complete independence and make her own way in the wild. We wish her luck and a safe journey on her way. Well done, Jenny and family. Badgerwatch is heartened to hear of a number other families who are taking on the task of hand-rearing orphaned cubs this Spring. One word of advice, remember to inform your local wildlife conservation ranger that you’ve a cub(s) on board for rescue and release. This is the law.
The late Richard (Dick) Power who died on 22nd March 2011.
It is hard to believe Dick has gone from us. I first came to know Dick way back in 1971. That was the year I joined The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS). Dick, together with actors John Cowley (of The Riordans fame), comedienne Maureen Potter and Des Perry, was one of the founder members. All were involved in a strong campaign aimed at outlawing blood-sports, in particular, the cruel so-called sport of live hare coursing.
Hunters would not be welcome on the land. Dick often discussed the danger that hunting across farmland posed to farm animals, particularly the likely-hood of spreading diseases such as bovine TB. It’s hardly surprising that in due course Dick became a welcome member of Badgerwatch. His sound advice was always welcome. We met Dick at a meeting of the Green Party in Limerick last year. We were not to know this would be the last time we would see him. No more the long and enlightening discussions on the phone. Heaven reward you, Dick. He was predeceased by his wife, Carmel some years ago. He is survived by his sons Martin and Pat and daughters, Mary and Cora to whom we send our deepest sympathies.
No respite for our Irish badgers. An update. June2011
The culling goes on and on……
It would seem there has never been any logical explanation offered for the unbelievable 56% increase in reactor cattle removed in 1998 over the 30,000 removed in the previous year of 1997. Although it coincided with the abolition of the compulsory pre-movement testing of cattle in 1996, this alone would hardly explain such an astonishing increase in cattle failing the test.
Granted, the number of reactor cattle removed annually continued to fall for the following seven years until 2005 when the reactor figures took an upward swing again. By the end of 2008, 30,000 reactors had been taken out. Reactor figures were now back at 1997 levels once more despite the removal of around 6,000 badgers annually during the intervening years. As previously stated, 20,211 reactors were removed by the end of last year. Whether this figure can be maintained or lowered remains to be seen.
Licences to capture badgers are issued on an annual basis and cover the period from 1 March to the end of February. The licensing arrangements for 2011 appear to have been agreed between officials from the Department (Agriculture) and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Previous licence curtailed the capture of badgers to 30% of agriculture land only and this limit nears completion sometime this year. Not satisfied with the above, it now appears the Department of Agriculture is hell-bent on killing even more badgers. It is understood that DAFF will seek a licence to extend the killing fields by further 10%. In short, 40% of Irish farmland will now be included in the culling zones. Thousands of badgers will continue to be eradicated for their alleged role in the spread of BTB.
Badgerwatch requested further details under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 and 2003. The conditions attached to snaring permits were supplied but other areas of the requests, which included discussions between both Departments on extending the culling zones were refused under Section 20 (1) of the FOI Act
According to Article 8 of the Bern Convention (to which Ireland is a signatory) 3.1.1 “Requires contracting parties to prohibit the use of all indiscriminate means of capture and killing and the use of all means capable of causing local disappearance of a populations of a species”. Badgers are Appendix lll Bern-protected animals.
Bern also states the population of badgers in any of the chronic areas is not reduced less than 40% after removal. It also states that the population of badgers in any other areas is not reduced to less than 60% after removal. How can the Bern Convention condone the prolonged and intensive culling regime in this Country? Is Bern fully aware of the high level of badger killing involved? Is Bern sanctioning the use of the extremely cruel and indiscriminate multi-strand wire snare? The species has been wiped out in many parts of the Country.
NPWS will continue to issue the necessary licenses while Agriculture claims it’s done in the name of ‘scientific research’ and Bern may accept the long-standing excuse that there is other solution to the BTB problem. When does ‘sound science’ become blatant slaughter? Now that we’re on the threshold of the long awaited vaccine, why continue the killing? It would seem we are no better than the Japanese whaling fleet who have, for many years also used an identical flag of convenience to slaughter thousands of whales in the Antarctic.
Dr. Chris Smal’s ‘Badger and Habitat Survey of Ireland’ (1995) estimated 200,000 adult badgers in the Republic. Today it would appear that our badger population is approximately 84,000. The awful prediction is that we may be looking at a badger population of approximately 60,000 in the not-too-distant future.
For those who are interested, DAFF’s medium term future Wildlife strategy 2011-2015 is worthwhile reading. Perhaps the Wildlife Unit which operates within the Department of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries will be helpful with providing a complimentary copy. If all fruit fails, Badgerwatch has recently received a copy, posted anonymously. We’ll be more than happy to oblige.
Welsh Assembly re-launches badger cull - A dead end policy in every respect, say RSPCA
March 2011. The Welsh Assembly Government have confirmed that it will be carrying out a badger cull in North Pembrokeshire as part of a package of measures which aim to tackle the problem of bovine TB in cattle. The RSPCA is deeply disappointed to learn that contentious plans for a badger cull in Wales have been given the go ahead. This cull could lead to the virtual elimination of badgers from an area of nearly 300 km2Previous plans for a cull were dismissed by the Court of Appeal last July after the Badger Trust won a legal challenge to stop it. The Welsh government put forward revised, but similar, proposals shortly afterwards for a cull in a specified area in the corner of the country most affected by the disease. It has now announced that these will go ahead.
The Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB (ISG)
The Independent Scientific Group on cattle TB (ISG) examined the science behind a badger cull. It published its final report in 2007 which was the result of painstaking research over nearly ten years, took the lives of about 11,000 badgers and cost taxpayers £50 million. It concluded that killing badgers could actually increase the spread of bTb, making matters worse rather than better. It said, "badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain".
TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, BADGER TRUST ASKS NEW WELSH GOVERNMENT
The Badger Trust is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to reconsider the Order made by the previous administration to kill badgers as part of a programme to control bovine tuberculosis (bTb). The Trust's solicitors have been instructed to seek the views of members of the new Government in Wales including newly appointed Minister for the Environment, John Griffiths. The Trust has also asked for an urgent reply because if there were not to be a pause, at the very least, in the killing programme, it would need to proceed with legal action next week.
In a letter to Carwyn Jones, the First Minister, the Trust has written: “We are … writing to ask whether it is your intention to revoke the Order so that you have the opportunity to review the current position”. The Trust has also asked to meet Mr Jones to discuss whether a legal challenge to the Order would be necessary. The letter adds: “In our opinion it would be preferable to work with your Government to discuss alternative methods of controlling bovine TB”.
Before the recent election the solicitors acting for Badger Trust wrote to the Welsh Assembly Government Legal Services Department setting out its intention to issue judicial review proceedings to challenge the Order in the absence of confirmation that it would be revoked. The Badger Trust's earlier challenge to a previous bTb eradication Order was successful and badger culling was abandoned.
Pat Hayden, vice chairman of the Trust, says: “It is our sincere belief that the [latest] Order was based on serious errors of science and law. If the proposed cull were permitted it would have no significant impact on the control of bTb in the Intensive Action Area. In fact the improved testing and cattle controls that have already been implemented in Wales are showing improvements without a single badger having been killed.
If the previous Welsh Assembly Government had remained in power we would not have hesitated to proceed because Ministers had indicated the cull would begin after May 31st - although they refuse to confirm the start date. However, Labour’s election manifesto has promised ‘a science-led approach to evaluate and review the best way of tackling bTb’”.
The Trust says proposals laid down in the Order are extremely expensive, and the threat of a cull is already having a detrimental effect on rural communities and those who depend on tourism in the Intensive Action Area of Pembrokeshire. The forced imposition of a cull also raises serious human rights issues in relation to landowners’ peaceful enjoyment of property and right to respect for private life and home.
According to WAG’s own figures in the annexes to its public consultation the cull would cost far more than it could save. The Trust is aware, from unsolicited input, that it is likely to be very damaging to the Welsh economy in terms not only of tourism but of people threatening to boycott Welsh products.
In the meantime an injectable vaccine is available and already in use in a TB hotspot area of Gloucestershire. No one doubts that vaccination works. It will shortly be used by the National Trust on one of its large estates in Devon. The Badger Trust are currently investigating the possibility of having members of its Groups trained and licensed as vaccinators in order that they can assist in extending the vaccination programme.
0775 173 1107
Badger Trust is the only charity dedicated to the conservation of badgers throughout England, Wales and all Ireland.
Tuberculosis test kit now available in UK, Netherlands and Ireland
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Views expressed in An Broc may not necessarily be those of Badgerwatch (Ireland)
Badgerwatch. 5, Tyrone Avenue, Waterford.. Ireland. 051-373876.
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