Time to protect the badger

 

Sir, – The badger is a jewel in the crown of Ireland’s wildlife heritage, a shy nocturnal creature with its distinctive white and black striped head and short sturdy legs. It enhances our natural environment and most rural dwellers haven’t a bad word to say about it. Badger-baiting, where dogs are pitted against the animal for “sport”, is illegal, and anyone with knowledge of the activity can contact the Garda Síochána.

Unfortunately, “respectable” people also threaten the welfare and conservation status of the badger. Since 1984 an estimated 120,000 badgers have been snared and killed by the Department of Agriculture as part of the discredited bovine TB eradication scheme.

Thousands of wire snares are laid across Ireland each night, quietly and discreetly, and many of these are just as quietly and discreetly removed by landowners, including farmers, who object to their presence on private property.

The method of capture is far from humane: the snare holds a badger until someone arrives a few hours later to shoot the animal. Many snared badgers strangle to death in their vain attempt to free themselves. When nursing female badgers are strangled or shot, their cubs are left to starve underground.

In addition to being cruel, this practice has been shown by recent findings to be ineffective in the war against bovine TB. Over 95,000 people have already signed an online petition calling on the Minister for Agriculture to end badger snaring.

The maligned and persecuted badger deserves complete protection under Irish law, not this barbaric slaughter masquerading as science. – Yours, etc,

JOHN FITZGERALD,

Callan, Co Kilkenny.