Press Release: 24 Nov 03


Press release from the Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Minister Walsh told to stop the badger cull 'charade'

The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) and Badgerwatch Ireland are today calling on Minister Joe Walsh to follow the example of the UK authorities and immediately suspend the culling of badgers. It has been revealed in the UK that the culling of badgers has increased the rate of bovine TB in cattle by 27 per cent.

UK Minister for Animal Health & Welfare, Minister Ben Bradshaw, suspended the badger cull in the "reactive" triplet zones because he said that there was enough data to show that it increases the disease in cattle, rather than reducing it.

We therefore call on Minister Joe Walsh to suspend all culling of badgers carried out here. His Department's flawed programme of taking out 30 per cent of Irish badgers in a given area, is based on supposition and vague estimations. For years, the Department of Agriculture has been culling badgers, using a barbaric and cruel wire snare, which they euphemistically term "a specially devised stopped body restraint" in which the stricken animals can be literally strangulated, dying horribly.

We also call on Minister Martin Cullen to immediately intervene in this issue, and refuse to issue licences for the snaring of badgers on the grounds that, under the Wildlife Act, we contend that this snare is illegal for use on badgers.

There are serious questions to be answered in relation to this issue of badger persecution. ICABS and Badgerwatch have seen a copy of the minutes of a meeting of officials in the Central Veterinary Laboratory in Abbottstown, where snared badgers are taken for testing. An official is quoted in the minutes as referring to the "badger charade" and saying that he saw the lab as "a knackery to dump badgers".

Next year, this horror will be escalated, and the Department of Agriculture will take on 75 "Snaring Operatives" to carry out the grim task of laying down these crude wire snares to trap many more thousands of hapless badgers which will then be "dumped" at the laboratory in Abbottstown. For what purpose we may ask? It is our belief that this sick "charade" and the escalation of the badger persecution was part of the negotiations to get agreement from the farmers for the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, and has nothing to do with science or the eradication of TB.

ICABS and Badgerwatch are calling for more resources to be allocated towards a test for TB in cattle that is one hundred per cent accurate (the present skin test is not one hundred per cent accurate). We also back Veterinary Ireland's statement that the re-introduction of a compulsory pre-movement cattle test would reduce the incidence of TB in cattle by ten per cent.

We are appalled at the Department of Agriculture's figures that almost 50,000 badgers have been eradiated in the last decade. Almost eighty per cent of these badgers would certainly have been TB-free.

Aideen Yourell
Spokesperson, Irish Council Against Blood Sports
Tel: 044-49848 or 086-2636265


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