The Northern Ireland Badger Group together with the USPCA has published a new factsheet on dispelling the myths on the role badgers play in the spread of Bovine TB (bTB). This follows a recent court outcome which has stopped a proposed badger cull in Northern Ireland.
Last month, both organisations welcomed the ruling from a judge that a badger cull proposed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as part of its drive to tackle bovine TB, would now not proceed.
This new factsheet provides dispels the myths on the role badgers play in the spread of Bovine TB. It adds to a growing evidence base that culling badgers is not the answer to bTB.
Nora Smith, Chief Executive of the USPCA said:
“Last month, we welcomed the court’s decision as a positive step in protecting Northern Ireland’s diverse wildlife and badger population. The unnecessary killing of helpless badgers by free shooting will do nothing to address the problem we have faced for years with bovine TB.
“We have full sympathy for our farming community who have been devastated by the impact of bovine TB on their herds and who have been led to believe a cull of badgers will play a leading role in solving the problem. It will not.
“The latest evidence reaffirms the highest rate of transmission is cow to cow. There must be a new conversation around how we eradicate bovine TB and the focus must be on cattle movements, testing and biosecurity. In Wales, which has a more robust strategy to protecting both cattle and badgers, they have seen a marked reduction in bTB, while their badger population remains intact.
Mike Rendle, Northern Ireland Badger Group commented:
“The recent court ruling has forestalled the pointless killing of large numbers of badgers in Northern Ireland. It is now beyond any doubt that cattle to cattle infection is driving bovine TB in herds. There is no credible evidence that badgers play a significant role in disease spread.
“The problem lies with the reservoir of undetected infection in cattle. The current skin test, which may detect as few as half of the infected animals in a herd, is not fit for purpose. Farmers and cattle deserve better.
“I hope that by dispelling misconceptions about badgers and instead following the latest scientific evidence, we can all work together to develop an effective evidence-led policy to deal with the disease while protecting farmers’ livelihoods as well as our badgers.”
Read the new factsheet here.