A controversial cull of badgers in the UK last year has been dealt another blow to its credibility with the admission by the BBC that it was wrong to assert that the cull in the Republic of Ireland, which has resulted in the death of over 100,000 badgers since it started in the early 1980s, had led to a reduction in the levels of bovine TB in cattle here.
UK resident Tom Langton originally made the complaint with support from the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT), and in particular Fintan Kelly and Conn Flynn who have extensively researched the badger cull in Ireland.
The Republic’s example has repeatedly been used by the supporters of the cull in the UK as evidence that the strategy works in controlling the disease. Although TB levels have reduced in Ireland since the start of the cull, they have remained flat for the past 10 years. The IWT believes that this is due to better testing methods of cattle and improved bio-security on farms here during that same period.
Culling in Ireland has come at a great cost to badgers with 6,000 being snared and shot every year, including during the breeding season. It may also be leading to the extinction of badgers in large parts of the country where there is no data on badger populations and no controls in place to ensure the conservation of the species. Research from the IWT has shown Ireland to be repeatedly in breach of its responsibilities under the Bern Convention (a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation).
The IWT’s Campaigns Officer Pádraic Fogarty says, “The contrast between the controversy surrounding the cull in the UK, where 900 badgers were killed, and Ireland, where there has been a systematic removal of thousands every year, is stark. Even the authorities responsible for the conservation of our wildlife don’t seem to mind that badgers are being wiped out from large areas.”
The IWT would like to independently assess the impact that the cull is having on our badger population and to see an urgent halt to the badger culling programme, especially during the breeding season. They argue that the solution to the TB problem lies in better vaccination and bio-security on farms.
Padraic Fogarty, Campaigns Officer, phone 087 2959811.