According to Agriculture Minister M. Coughlan, "The removal of badgers resulted
in a very significant decline in the incidence of TB in the cattle herd". No
surprises here for friends of the badger. This is exactly what Min. Coughlan’s
Department has been saying for almost two decades. In that period almost 60,000
Irish badgers have been legally killed by DAFRD. At least 80% of these animals
(48,000) were healthy and TB-free. In this most recent ‘project’ 2,360 badgers
have been sacrificed in the name of scientific research.
The exact numbers of badgers illegally killed on Irish farms can but be
guessed at. The future of our badgers and their rapid decline in this
Country has now reached critical proportions.
Initially BadgerWatch felt certain that Minister Coughlan had been the
recipient of the long awaited hard scientific evidence of badger
involvement. Had the mode of transmission of TB from badger to cattle been
finally demonstrated for once and for all? No, it was still ‘more of the
same’. Another mish-mash of mathematical figures and projections has been
served up. Our badgers have been tried, convicted and executed on the
grounds of mere circumstantial evidence.
Killing badgers is not the long-term solution to the Country’s cattle TB
problem. It is likely badgers are themselves victims of the disease, having
picked it up from foraging in infected cattle dung. To begin with, the
present skin test used to ‘diagnose’ the disease is not 100% accurate.
Healthy animals fail it while infected animals (false negatives) are missed
and left to pass on infection. Perhaps the Minister might give serious
consideration to the return of the compulsory pre-movement test however
politically unsavoury it may be. Qualified personnel tell us it would lead
to a 10% drop in present BTB levels.
Post project areas will, as usual, remain permanent badger-free zones.
Badger removal operations are repeated annually if there’s evidence of
renewed badger activity. The Irish Government insists that it is adhering to
Bern Convention requests that 20% badgers are left behind. This is
incorrect. Badger trappers lay down multi-strand wire snares at a targeted
sett over a two-week period. Their working manual allows them to continue
snaring for a further two-week period if the entire sett has not been
cleared of badgers. The badger is held until it is shot the following
morning. This activity continues right through the breeding season with
nursing sows been removed. Dependent cubs are left to die of starvation
Unlike the U.K, there is no beneficial closed season on snaring in Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (DAFRD will
continue to slaughter badgers for the foreseeable future, using the
‘Scientific Research’ flag of convenience. This will guarantee it a safe
passage through any serious objections likely to come its way. It remains
the futile course that it is, having by-passed the real problem.
Co-ordinator, BadgerWatch (Ireland)
by Badgerwatch Ireland. All rights reserved.