Urgent appeal to Minister Walsh: Stop the badger cull ‘charade’
6th November 2003
The Irish Council Against Blood Sports (ICABS) and Badgerwatch Ireland are today calling on Minister Joe Walsh to follow the example of the UK authorities and immediately suspend the culling of badgers. It has been revealed in the UK that the culling of badgers has increased the rate of bovine TB in cattle by 27 per cent.
UK Minister for Animal Health & Welfare, Minister Ben Bradshaw, suspended the badger cull in the "reactive" triplet zones because he said that there was enough data to show that it increases the disease in cattle, rather than reducing it.
We therefore call on Minister Joe Walsh to suspend all culling of badgers carried out here. His Department’s flawed programme of taking out 30 per cent of Irish badgers in a given area, is based on supposition and vague estimations. For years, the Department of Agriculture has been culling badgers, using a barbaric and cruel wire snare, which they euphemistically term "a specially devised stopped body restraint" in which the stricken animals can be literally strangulated, dying horribly.
We also call on Minister Martin Cullen to immediately intervene in this issue, and refuse to issue licences for the snaring of badgers on the grounds that, under the Wildlife Act, we contend that this snare is illegal for use on badgers.
There are serious questions to be answered 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".
Next year, this horror will be escalated, and the Department of Agriculture will take on 75 "Snaring Operatives" to carry out the grim task of laying down these crude wire snares to trap many more thousands of hapless badgers which will then be "dumped" at the laboratory in Abbottstown. For what purpose we may ask? It is our belief that this sick "charade" and the escalation of the badger persecution was part of the negotiations to get agreement from the farmers for the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, and has nothing to do with science or the eradication of TB. ICABS and Badgerwatch are calling for more resources to be allocated towards a test for TB in cattle that is one hundred per cent accurate (the present skin test is not one hundred per cent accurate). We also back Veterinary Ireland’s statement that the re-introduction of a compulsory pre-movement cattle test would reduce the incidence of TB in cattle by ten per cent.
We are appalled at the Department of Agriculture’s figures that almost 50,000 badgers have been eradiated in the last decade. Almost eighty per cent of these badgers would certainly have been TB-free.
Minister Walsh - Stop the badger snaring slaughter
The Department of Agriculture's so-called TB Eradication Scheme will leave 80,000 badgers dead. It’s a cruel experiment that's been condemned by the UK's National Federation of Badger Groups as "slaughter masquerading as science".
Despite the fact that no scientific evidence exists to definitively link badgers to the spread of TB, the Department is continuing with the massacre. They have employed over seventy “snaring operatives” to wipe out 30 per cent of the Irish badger population.
Bernie Barrett of Badger Watch describes how badgers are suffering under the Department’s Scheme.
“The method of capture is a barbaric wire snare which holds the helpless badger in excruciating pain until it is dispatched by gunshot,” she says. “That’s provided the animal has not agonisingly strangled itself beforehand.” (See images of strangled badger below).
“When nursing female badgers are snared and shot, their cubs are left to starve to death underground,” she added.
Please join us in appealing to Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, to end the snaring operation which is decimating the Irish badger population. See the Action Items below for more details about how you can help.
ICABS Action Item: Save the Irish Badger
1. Contact Minister Joe Walsh
Write to the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, asking him to immediately stop this terrible assault on the badger - a "protected species" in Ireland, believe it or not!
Joe Walsh, TD
2. Contact Minister Martin Cullen
Demand that Minister Martin Cullen immediately intervenes and refuses to issue further licences for the snaring of badgers.
Minister Martin Cullen
Tel: +353 (0) 1 888 2000
3. Contact the Council of Europe
Write to the Council of Europe urging them to take action to prevent the Irish Government from slaughtering thousands of more badgers.
4. Send Minister Joe Walsh a campaign postcard
If you would like a "Stop the Badger Snaring Slaughter" postcard to send to Minister Walsh, please Contact Us now. If you have friends who would be willing to join this protest by sending in a card, please specify how many cards you require. Thank you.
Alternatively, print out the Campaign Postcard and send it to Minister Joe Walsh.
5. Sign the online petition
Badger Watch Ireland is asking people to sign the online petition at: www.petitiononline.com/dgm001/petition.html.
6. Report location of snares
If you know the whereabouts of snares which the Department of Agriculture has set, please Contact Us immediately.
Images of dead badger in Department snare
The following images show a badger dead in an Irish Department of Agriculture snare. At the base of the tree to which the snare is attached are scratch marks where the badger desperately tried to claw its way to freedom.
Media Statements from the National Federation of Badger Groups
Here we present a selection of media statements issued by the UK-based National Federation of Badger Groups.
Badger culling suspended for increasing TB
Reactive badger culling has increased the rate of bovine TB in cattle by 27 per cent, animal health and welfare Minister Ben Bradshaw revealed today. He announced the immediate suspension of reactive culling in the so-called Krebs experiment because there are enough data to show that it increases the disease in cattle, rather than reducing it.
'We congratulate the Minister for acting decisively on the information currently available,' said Dr Elaine King, chief executive of the National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG). 'These extraordinary results confirm the warnings that I and other scientists have been giving for years. It also means that farmers who have been illegally killing badgers have actually made their situation worse rather than better.'
Dr King added: 'This announcement is a massive blow to the credibility of the farming unions. They have consistently called for reactive badger culling outside the existing experimental areas. It is imperative that the farming unions stop making ill-advised calls for badger culling and work with us and the veterinary profession to implement effective schemes to control the problem of TB transmission between cattle. There is already clear evidence that cattle are infectious with bovine TB long before the skin test identifies the problem. This serious infection route must be addressed as a matter of urgency.'
The so-called Krebs experiment began in 1998 to test whether culling badgers reduces bovine TB in cattle. Three experimental 'treatments' are being tested, each in ten areas of ten square kilometres: reactive culling, in which badgers are killed on and around farms where a TB outbreak occurs; proactive culling, in which as many badgers as possible are killed throughout the entire area; and no culling.
'The reactive culling data confirms that there is a bovine TB link between badgers and cattle; that comes as no surprise. But the data shows you cannot break the link by killing badgers,' said Dr King. 'Instead, reactive culling makes the situation far worse and even suggests that cattle are giving the disease to previously uninfected badgers. We therefore have to look elsewhere for a solution to this disease.'
There are no data yet to show whether proactive badger culling has any effect on controlling bovine TB in cattle. Dr King said: 'It is vital that the Minister acts now to invest the money saved by cancelling reactive culling in research into alternative TB control strategies. Tighter cattle movement restrictions and improved TB testing regimes using the gamma interferon blood test for cattle, for example, are both currently under-funded. The Minister must act now to ensure that he has a range of options to choose from when the Krebs experiment finally ends.'
Dr Elaine King
Tel: 020 7228 6444
"Irish badger cull is slaughter masquerading as science": Conservationists
Claims by Irish scientists that exterminating badgers can reduce TB in cattle by up to 90%, were today lambasted by conservationists.
The claims were made on Radio 4's Farming Today programme (31 May 2003) by Irish scientists working on the so-called 'Four Areas Badger Removal Trial'.
"The Irish research is laughable. It has no scientifically valid 'controls' whatsoever. It is little more than slaughter masquerading as science and is no better than Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling'," said Dr Elaine King, chief executive of the National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG). The NFBG coordinates the views of conservation organisations representing more than five million members on the bovine TB issue.
"Research into whether a disease treatment is effective should always be complemented by 'controls' in which no treatment is applied. This is a fundamental rule is applied to everything from drug tests to the British Government's ongoing Krebs experiment into badgers and bovine TB. But Ireland has simply ignored these scientific standards, so its results are worthless.
"Furthermore, Ireland has never undertaken any research to assess whether badger culling is the most cost-effective or most humane way of controlling bovine TB. Irish scientists kill badgers by strangling them with a wire, and shooting those that survive the snare. We hardly think that such an approach will encourage consumers to buy Irish dairy produce."
The NFBG argues that, because farming is a more significant part of the economy in Ireland than in Britain, the Irish government lacks the courage to compel farmers to control TB through cattle-based measures even though there is clear evidence that such a strategy could be effective.
"In the wake of foot and mouth disease, the British Government grasped the nettle and this year cattle-based TB control measures will be introduced to manage the disease," said Dr King. "Clear evidence already shows that cattle are infectious with TB long before the disease is detected by the standard skin test. These cattle played a major role in spreading TB to new hotspots after foot and mouth disease.
"Irish scientists like to give the impression that badger culling will solve Ireland's bovine TB problem. But they cannot say how the trial could be implemented in reality. Do they really plan to exterminate all the badgers in Ireland in order to control a disease which has a low incidence in cattle?"
The NFBG believes the following positive solutions are priorities for the Government: