Irish Wildlife Trust concerned that Badgers are now under serious threat in Ireland

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The Irish badger cull has to date resulted in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM) killing over one hundred thousand badgers. On average every badger group known to the DAFM have had a badger removed at least once [1]. We now have the situation where a species that is protected at a national and European level is being eradicated from many parts of the Irish countryside. Given the intensive nature of this culling programme the Irish Authorities made the commitment to the Bern Secretariat and to the Irish people on several occasions that badger removal operations will never cover more than 30% of the agricultural land of the country [1, 2, 3]. Despite this commitment the Irish Authorities confirmed in their latest communication to the Bern Standing Committee that the area of agricultural land under capture in 2012 was 31.05% [1]. Limiting the amount of land under capture was one of the few considerations given to the conservation of badgers in the Government’s cull
ing programme. This is the second time that the Irish badger cull has been in breach of the Bern Convention in the last year [4].
Fintan Kelly, IWT Research Officer says “The scale of this cull is hard to comprehend. We have the unfathomable situation where the National Parks and Wildlife Service are handing out licenses to remove a protected species without any effort to monitor the effect this is having on badgers on either a local or a national level. We currently have no idea how many badgers are left in Ireland. There is strong evidence that badgers are effectively being removed from a vast swathe of the Irish countryside. This cull is occurring despite strong scientific evidence showing that culling causes the spread of TB [5, 6]. The Irish Wildlife Trust’s petition against the cull now stands at over ten thousand signatures [7]. It is clear that the Irish people want to see culling replaced by vaccination immediately. All the evidence shows that vaccination is in the interests of both farmers and badgers as it is cheaper and more effective at reducing TB [8]”.

[1] Report  on progress on the Irish TB programme for the eradication of mycobacterium bovis infection from  cattle & badger – 2007-2012,
[2] DAHG, D. O. (2012). Steady decline of the national badger (Meles meles) population in Ireland. Brussels: European Council Standing Committee.
[3] O’Keeffe, J. (2006). Description of a medium term national strategy toward eradication of Tuberculosis in cattle in Ireland. Dublin: Tuberculosis Investigation Unit Biennial Report.
[4] IWT Press Release: Ireland’s failing to comply with International Conservation Treaty
[5] Bourne, F. J., Donnelly, C. A., Cox, D. R., Gettinby, G., McInerney, J. P., Morrison, W. I., et al. (2006). TB policy and the badger culling trials. Veterinary Record , 158(19), 671-672.
[6] Bourne, F. J., Donnelly, C. A., Cox, D. R., Gettinby, G., McInerney, J. P., Morrison, W. I., et al. (2007). TB policy and the ISG’s findings. Veterinary Record , 161(18), 633-635.
[7] Irish petition against badger cull: To Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney ‘Stop badger culling in Ireland’
[8] Robinson, P. A., Corner, L. A., A, E., Courcier, M. J., Artois, M., Menzies, F. D., et al. (2012). BCG vaccination against tuberculosis in European badgers (Meles meles) A review. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases , 35, 277– 287.

If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Fintan Kelly 0851295849