Farming & Fisheries

ICSA: Time to consider badger cull

March 24th, 2024 7:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Removing badgers from areas affected by TB or further vaccinating badgers are among the measures which may be implemented by the Department of Agriculture. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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THE Department of Agriculture should reconsider its policy of prioritising badger vaccination over culling, a leading member of the ICSA has said.

ICSA Animal Health and Welfare chair Hugh Farrell expressed frustration with the handling of the TB Eradication Programme.

TB has become a huge concern among farmers in recent years, with high numbers and outbreaks across the country.

A report in The Southern Star at the end of the 2023 highlighted an outbreak described by then IFA Cork West chair Donal O’Donovan as ‘one of the biggest in West Cork in years’.

Now the ICSA’s Farrell has called for a change of policy. ‘The Dept of Agriculture must reconsider prioritising badger vaccination over culling as the vaccination programme has coincided with increasing TB numbers,’ he said.

He cited research from the UK published in the journal Nature which showed a 56% fall in the herd incidence rate of TB by following a badger culling policy. ‘If badger culling in the UK can have such a significant impact on TB levels, we must seriously question the scientific advice ICSA and other farm organisations are receiving at the TB Forum where badger vaccination is heavily prioritised over culling – despite reactor numbers here going up, not down,’ said Mr Farrell.

He added:  ‘The source of infection for any given breakdown is extremely difficult to ascertain. The list goes on. We need to focus on strategies that are proven to yield tangible results.’

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