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Shocking badger kill figures released
25th February 2004

Figures just released show that more than 27,000 badgers have been killed by the Department of Agriculture since 1995. The Department's controversial TB Eradication scheme which blames badgers for disease spread has been condemned as "slaughter masquerading as science".

According to Badger Watch Ireland, the estimated number of badgers killed in the last two decades by the Department of Agriculture may be as high as 50,000. Most would certainly have been healthy and TB-free.

Bernie Barrett of Badger Watch describes how badgers are suffering under the Departmentís Scheme: "The method of capture is a barbaric wire snare which holds the helpless badger in excruciating pain until it is dispatched by gunshot. Thatís provided the animal has not agonisingly strangled itself beforehand. When nursing female badgers are snared and shot, their cubs are left to starve to death underground."

The Department receives a licence to snare and kill badgers from Minister for the Environment, Martin Cullen. Minister Cullen has dismissed calls for his Department to stop issuing licences which allow a protected animal to be killed.

Serious questions remain unanswered 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".

Dail questions asked this month by Green Party TD, Trevor Sargent, have revealed the extent of the Department of Agriculture's assault on the badger. Please see below for full details of badgers killed in each county along with figures for the number of licences issued to snare badgers.

dead badger
Bernie Barrett of Badger Watch describes how badgers are suffering under the Departmentís Scheme: "The method of capture is a barbaric wire snare which holds the helpless badger in excruciating pain until it is dispatched by gunshot. Thatís provided the animal has not agonisingly strangled itself beforehand. When nursing female badgers are snared and shot, their cubs are left to starve to death underground."

Parliamentary Q&A: Badger slaughter

Question 231 - Answered on 17th February, 2004

Trevor Sargent: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of badgers that were killed in each of the 26 counties for each of the years from 1995 through to 2003.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The following table sets out the information requested for the years 1995-2002. The figures for 2003 are not yet available.

County

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

CARLOW

0

108

72

116

157

114

41

142

CAVAN

176

146

63

87

81

240

98

186

CLARE

239

219

159

151

338

286

134

183

CORK

92

138

209

500

423

323

379

525

DONEGAL

36

65

171

134

165

119

68

88

DUBLIN

0

3

0

3

32

5

0

1

GALWAY

58

105

8

40

48

76

85

83

KERRY

15

34

24

7

61

170

122

162

KILDARE

8

15

22

16

24

165

25

290

KILKENNY

307

439

366

261

297

243

209

233

LAOIS

103

306

139

139

91

135

76

191

LEITRIM

30

52

55

23

173

253

229

227

LIMERICK

22

45

32

66

87

119

18

146

LONGFORD

99

68

88

72

105

165

108

147

LOUTH

0

0

15

19

40

131

52

111

MAYO

112

65

22

31

30

173

373

424

MEATH

19

0

0

10

17

11

164

412

MONAGHAN

132

233

141

194

249

464

212

331

OFFALY

110

240

204

167

224

315

126

352

ROSCOMMON

0

236

79

45

108

186

166

413

SLIGO

84

92

56

156

124

346

219

290

TIPPERARY

161

230

126

114

303

351

199

306

WATERFORD

18

29

1

51

67

43

115

330

WESTMEATH

84

229

84

45

86

74

0

103

WEXFORD

89

21

18

17

75

98

192

181

WICKLOW

17

39

17

10

128

122

148

258

                 

TOTALS

2011

3157

2171

2 474

3533

4727

3558

6115

Question 493 - Answered on 17th February, 2004

Trevor Sargent: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of licences which have been issued by the national parks and wildlife service division of his Department under section 23(6) of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000, specifically for the capture of humane killings of badgers for each of the 26 counties in each of the years from 1995 through to 2003.

Question 494 - Answered on 17th February, 2004

Trevor Sargent: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the estimated badger population; the total number and the number per square kilometre in each of the 26 counties for each of the years from 1995 through to 2003; and the confidence limits of the estimates.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Mr. Cullen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 493 and 494 together. My Department is responsible for the issue of licences under Section 23 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000 to the Department of Agriculture and Food to capture and humanely kill badgers as part of its continued research into bovine tuberculosis. The numbers of licences issued since 1995 are as follows:

1995

337 licences

1996

329 licences

1997

423 licences

1998

361 licences

1999

503 licences

2000

591 licences

2001

477 licences

2002

810 licences

2003

383 licences

My Department does not have to hand the breakdown of these figures per county; however this information is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The most recent survey of the badger population was carried out in 1995. The badger and habitat survey of Ireland was funded by the national parks and wildlife service and the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. This report, estimated that there was a badger population of the order of 200,000 in Ireland. While no county or local breakdown of population numbers was provided, the report gives some statistics on regional variations in the density of badger social groups by county. The lowest densities were in several western and north-western counties and in Wicklow, these counties being generally distinguished by their large areas of upland, bog or moor. The six counties with the highest badger densities were all located in the broad midland zone, Kilkenny, Louth, Limerick, Meath, Offaly and Westmeath - counties with a relatively large proportion of quality grazing land. Three further counties, Carlow, Clare and Cork, had slightly lower densities. The lowest density was recorded from County Longford and the highest from County Kilkenny.

I am arranging for a copy of "The Badger and Habitat Survey of Ireland" to be forwarded to the Deputy and also for a copy to be placed in the Oireachtas Library.

Question 99 - Answered on 18th February, 2004

Dan Boyle: To ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food his views on the description of his Department's tuberculosis eradication scheme as a cruel slaughter of badgers masquerading as science; if he will review the policy in favour of more scientific and more compassionate methods to prevent the spread of tuberculosis; and his views on the Krebs experiment in the UK which has seen a suspension of reactive culling of badgers.

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme is carried out in full compliance with EU Directive 64/432.

This has reduced the level of tuberculosis in cattle from 17% in 1955 to 0.3% in 2003. It is now accepted that the presence of an infected maintenance host, the badger, is a major constraint to the final eradication of tuberculosis from the national herd. A multi-disciplined research programme involving staff from the Department, Teagasc and the universities is making significant progress in identifying improvements to the eradication programme. This research is driven by science. Significant progress is also being made on the development of a vaccine strategy for the badger population. In this, my Department and others are in collaboration with scientific colleagues in the UK and New Zealand.

The present policy is scientifically based and under constant review. For instance, this year changes include a more focused contiguous herd testing policy, more use of the ancillary gamma interferon blood test in target herds and a new enhanced computer system which will improve our analytical capacity.The results of the four area study into the effect of local area badger removal will be published in the near future. This study is expected to confirm the results of the earlier east Offaly study, which indicated a significant effect on bovine tuberculosis levels following removal of badgers from an area.

Under the PPF a new wildlife unit has been introduced to focus on the TB blackspot areas of the country. The removal of badgers is carried out by trained staff and badger welfare is a major element in the working of the programme.

With reference to the Krebs experiment in the UK, detailed data relating to the trial have not been published by the UK authorities and, therefore, it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage. While the suspension of reactive culling of badgers has been noted, it is not possible to extrapolate the position to this country as the ecology of the badger is different here - for example, in the UK 70% of setts are in woodland and 30% in pasture, while the reverse applies in Ireland and the social group size is different. The method of capture is also unlike that practised here in that the UK uses the caged trapping method whereas we use restraints for trapping. We did experiment with caged trapping but found no advantages from a welfare point of view.

ICABS Action Item: Save the Irish Badger

To find out what you can do to help save badgers from the Department of Agriculture's mass slaughter, please Click Here.

For more information on badgers and the campaign to protect them, please visit the website of Badgerwatch Ireland

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