Culling of badgers must still be used in areas hit by outbreaks of bovine TB, according to the IFA’s Animal Health Chairman.
Maurice Brady laid out the association’s position stressing recent outbreaks in two parts of Co Cavan. Mr Brady was responding to last week’s announcement by Minister Michael Creed that, after the success of trial programmes in seven locations countrywide, the vaccination of badgers against TB has commenced as an integral part of the bovine TB eradication programme.
Asked if he believes culling will still be required to eradicate TB, Mr Brady replied “Absolutely”.
“Culling will still be an essential part of badger management, especially in the areas where there have been [outbreaks of] TB.”
He said that parts of Kingscourt and Kill/Maudabawn had an ongoing problem since August/September and that “culling of badgers will be essential” in affected areas.
“There are a number of blackspot areas that we are trying to deal with. There’s no easy answers of course, the same as everything else except for tests, tests and more tests, and control of wildlife. We will be insisting that they [the Department] will have a look at all the wildlife [badgers and deer] in the context of those blackspot areas.”
Co Cavan was not included in the trial areas. The closest trial areas to County Cavan were north Monaghan, and in Longford; an area comprising up to a third of the county. The remaining five trial areas were located further south.
“The vaccination programme will commence in the areas, which have already been part of the field trials demonstrating the effectiveness of badger vaccination,” explained Minister Creed last week. “It will roll out incrementally to other parts of the country over time, with vaccination gradually replacing the need to remove badgers.”
Vaccination of badgers will be carried out by Department of Agriculture staff.
Mr Brady said that he would have no problem with the vaccination programme being used in Co Cavan. However, he noted that, until now, there has only been seven officials involved in carrying out the vaccination trial scheme.
“It’s going to be a slow process. It’s physically impossible to say we’re going to vaccinate all the badgers in the country – that’s an impossibility, so it’ll be an incremental roll-out,” Mr Brady told The Anglo-Celt.