Badger Killing to satisfy Beef Farmers

Six thousand or more defenseless Badgers have been killed annually to satisfy Beef farmers here in Ireland. Slaughter continues annually although a BCG Vaccine is being used increasingly. We would prefer all Badgers to be vaccinated of course as an alternative to shooting/Clubbing/trapping. Badgers and Cattle share the same fields, can the Badgers really be blamed, or is it just a circle of infection. Cattle and Wildlife are both victims.

Although an end to the Meat trade is the ideal as no healthy  animals need to die at all except for Greed or profit by those who exploit them. We fight for a Vegan world by promoting a plant based diet. Badgers are the scapegoats and are blamed  for the spread of TB in Cattle kept, impregnated, exported and have their young taken away  while being used as food.

The Graph below that we received from the DAFM.  DAFM killed over the past 10 years are:

























The letter we copied below came in answer to our questions on the methods of killing of BADGERS (our native wildlife) and we share this knowledge with you. Our queries were answered by James O Keeffe,

 ‘ The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have been conducting pen and field trials using BCG vaccine over the past 10 years, and this research work is showing BCG to be protective for badgers (papers attached).  A trial where intra-muscular vaccination with BCG is being tested as a substitute for continued culling of badger has just ended (31st. Dec.2017) and the results of this work will be available before the summer.  The preliminary findings are such that DAFM will continue with its current vaccination program and most likely will expand the vaccine areas later in 2018.  The Minister has yet to make a final decision on the matter, but I expect an announcement from him shortly where he will outline DAFMs future plans for incorporating vaccination into the Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication programme.

As you are aware, TB in cattle has been an intractable problem in the decades since the eradication effort began in 1954.  While rapid progress was made in the first decade, from 1965 onward progress stalled and herd breakdowns remained at an unacceptable level of 10,000 per year.  The influence of badgers as an intermediate host of M.Bovis, the causative agent of bovine TB, was recognised from the late 1980s onward and was demonstrated here by research work done in East Offaly and in major study by DAFM called The Four Area Study.  To cut a long story short and in response to the findings of these pieces of research, DAFM set up its Wildlife Unit in 2002, and commenced targeted removals of badgers in areas that were proven to be endemic for TB in both cattle and in badgers.

This program has been extremely successful, and herd breakdowns have fallen to 30% of the 1965-2000 levels, with reactor numbers declining to 15/16K from the previous levels of 35/40K.  These improvements represent significant savings to both the taxpayer and to farmers, and has resulted on TB levels being reduced to the lowest ever witnessed since 1954.  The current program involves DAFM removing 6000 badgers per annum and vaccinating 1000.  My hope is that in 5 years time, DAFM will oversee a program that will entail vaccinating 6000 badgers per annum and removing less than 1000.

Regarding your query about the various badger crimes that are detected/prosecuted here, I must direct you to colleagues in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), now part of the Department of Heritage, Culture and the Gaeltacht with regard to these questions.  DAFM operate under a licence issued by NPWS so are not involved with, or are the competent authority with responsibility for, policing the Wildlife Acts in this country.’

National Parks and Wildlife Service has full  responsibility for ensuring that it is carried out.

 Vaccination with oral bait will cost less than KILLING and will cure the disease in the badgers. That is something snaring can never achieve. There is no doubt that bTB infection has substantially declined. Sixty per cent fewer cattle have tested positive for infection since 1999, but several factors are involved in this improvement, including a reduction in cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are a protected species, as James O’Keeffe, Department of Agriculture wildlife officer and overseer of the cull since 2001, puts it: “We can get away with the current culling rate for a few more years, but it’s bound to impact on the viability of the national badger populations fairly soon. It’s simply not sustainable.”

Eliminating bTB has cost the taxpayer  €70 million a year, and now costs €40 million, and  the badger killing aspect of that strategy costs €5.5 million a year. Still no solid strategy exists. Of course the Farmer and the massive meat industry is to blame.

Press Officer Bernie Wright

Ph 0872651720

 Alliance for Animal Rights

PO Box 4734, D 1.