Badger Cull is Cruel, Ineffective and Unjustifiable

The USPCA has come out strongly against a badger cull being introduced in Northern Ireland, as recommended by DAERA’s Advisory Group.

The badger is a protected species in law – it is illegal to kill badgers or damage their setts.

Across Northern Ireland there will be working farms with badgers on them and no sign of TB in the farm livestock – so quite simply – badgers are not the cause of TB in cattle.

There is therefore no justification for an indiscriminate cull of badgers in Northern Ireland. If a wildlife intervention is required, then it should be part of a wider farm bio security initiative and be focused on trapping and vaccinating the badgers. Badgers only live for 3-5 years so vaccination would quickly break the population transmission cycle. This would be a much more progressive, humane and effective approach.

The USPCA recognises the trauma and suffering caused at a basic human level on farms affected by bovine TB not to mention the cost – £40m per year spent in tackling the disease and so we need to come up with a new  but more importantly – an effective strategy to eradicate the disease.

The debate around a badger cull is almost a side show in terms of meaningfully addressing the problem of the disease. There are bigger and more impactful issues to be looked at such as the inadequacy of the current testing regime, which is leaving undetected infectious animals on farms, leading to a continuous spiral of further infection. That is what has to be addressed.

USPCA Chief Executive, Brendan Mullan stated:

“There is a need for a new conversation to effectively eradicate the disease. It is disappointing that to date, the Department and their advisers are refusing to take notice of the really encouraging results achieved on a farm in Devon – Gatcombe Farm – which suffered from TB for 10 years and is now disease free. No badger cull – but more effective testing to ensure infectious animals were not being left in the herd and no slurry spreading as the disease is carried in faeces.

Wales has recognised this success and is investing its resources in this approach. We would encourage officials in Northern Ireland to take a closer look at this emerging new science and pilot such an approach in Northern Ireland.”

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