Badger cull is not the answer, says Wildlife Trust
Wednesday 14th March 2012
The Ulster Wildlife Trust today welcomed Minister O’Neill’s commitment to tackling bovine TB (bTB) in Northern Ireland, but warns that much more work is needed to ensure biosecurity practice on farms is improved to reduce the spread of the disease.
The Ulster Wildlife Trust is pleased that the Agriculture Minister is interested in pursuing badger vaccination as an option, but is concerned that she is facing pressure to cull badgers as part of a solution.
The Trust believes a cull would not be a good use of public money and would be unpopular with the public who see badgers as an important part of Northern Ireland’s wildlife heritage – particularly as recent news stories show that badger persecution is still a wide-spread problem here.
Victoria Magreehan, Strategic Development Director with the Ulster Wildlife Trust said: “To pursue badger culling is not a viable long-term solution - it ignores the main body of scientific evidence relating to culling, which shows that at best it is ineffective, and at worst can exacerbate the problem.
“The Ulster Wildlife Trust acknowledges that bTB is a significant problem that causes hardship for many in the farming community, but we believe there will be no winners from continuing to pursue badger culling as an option. We will be continuing to work with Government here to confront this disease, taking a science-based approach.”
The Ulster Wildlife Trust believes that DARD should focus on the following as matter of priority for eradicating the disease:
• Continue to improve on-farm bio-security measures to reduce cattle to cattle and cattle to badger transmission.
• Implement a short to medium-term programme of badger vaccination to reduce bTB transmission from badgers to cattle.
• Facilitate the development of a cattle vaccine along with a change to EU legislation to allow a cattle vaccine to be used.
Victoria added: “We understand that a senior DARD vet has criticised the general level of biosecurity on farms in NI as “not something to be particularly proud of”, and echoes the need for more work to be done double fencing perimeter fences and making livestock housing inaccessible to badgers to help prevent transmission of bTB.”