Alternatives to a badger cull?

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 01:02

Sir, – The Department of Agriculture’s plan to have 12,000 badgers killed over the next two years as part of an anti-bovine TB initiative is monstrous. An estimated 100,000 of these shy, nocturnal creatures have already been snared and shot in Ireland in the course of successive department-sponsored culling programmes, and still the disease continues to afflict farms nationwide, with the badger killing to date failing to make even a dent in the incidence of bovine TB.

Instead of targeting the badger, which is supposedly protected under the 1976 Wildlife Act and a Council of Europe convention, I suggest the department focus its energies on the search for a badger vaccine against the disease that would remove the broc’s alleged threat to Ireland’s agricultural sector.

Snaring is cruel to badgers. Each animal caught has to wait, struggling to break free from the stranglehold, for the arrival of someone contracted by the department to end its life with a rifle shot.

That’s an ordeal no wild animal should have to endure, but there is another reason why the snaring of badgers should not even be contemplated, the prevalence in the countryside of organised badger baiting. Unscrupulous people set pairs of dogs on captive badgers until either the badger is ripped to pieces or one or both of the dogs has been mauled to death by the terrified creature.

The badger is being made to serve as a scapegoat for the department’s failure to tackle bovine TB and to devote adequate resources to the quest for a vaccine. It’s time for everyone who values our wonderful wildlife heritage to say no to a badger cull! – Yours, etc,

JOHN FITZGERALD,

Lower Coyne Street,

Callan, Co Kilkenny.