DAERA announces badger sett surveys

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The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, has announced that DAERA will commence badger sett surveys in two bovine tuberculosis (bTB) problem areas in Northern Ireland.

During the surveys, DAERA staff will survey land within each selected area to locate and map badger setts using GPS devices. There will be no interference with the badger populations during these surveys. The information gathered as part of this work will be used to help inform potential future wildlife intervention policies with the aim of strengthening DAERA’s bTB Eradication Programme.

The surveys will take place in two areas, one around Aghadowey, Co Londonderry and the other near Omagh. Fieldwork will commence in January 2018 and continue throughout the spring.

The Department intends to write to herd keepers or landowners in each area to ask them to participate in the surveys.

Mr Huey said: “The badger sett surveys are an important step in terms of gathering evidence to inform future wildlife intervention policies and I would encourage those contacted to allow staff access to land to enable this work to progress.”

The Department is currently consulting on a package of TB proposals, which includes recommendations for wildlife intervention policies. These badger sett surveys will be taking place without prejudice to any decisions about future policies. Decisions on future wildlife intervention policies will take into account all responses received during the consultation as well as any other new evidence gathered through these surveys.

The consultation closes on 1 February 2018 and Mr Huey is encouraging all those with an interest in bTB eradication to respond.

He added: “This consultation is an opportunity for everyone with an interest in shaping the future of DAERA’s bTB eradication strategy to express their views. I would strongly encourage anyone with a vested interest in bTB eradication, to respond to the consultation which closes on 1 February 2018.”