Ulster Wildlife has expressed concern about the strategy on bovine TB (bTB) eradication which was launched last week by the TB Stakeholder Group. This could see large numbers of healthy badgers culled within ten intervention areas across Northern Ireland.
Jennifer Fulton, Chief Executive with Ulster Wildlife said: “Bovine tuberculosis is a complex and costly disease and we are very conscious of the hardship that it causes the farming community and the need to find the right mechanisms to control it.
“Although there is much to commend in the new long-term strategy, we are disappointed and concerned that the current test, vaccinate and removal methodology may not be fully rolled out into the intervention areas, and that a large number of healthy badgers may be culled unnecessarily.
“While we welcome the vaccination of badgers around the target areas, which will help to provide a degree of protection to both adults and their young, the vast majority of science to date suggests that culling causes perturbation – dispersal of badgers - which could in turn further aggravate the spread of the disease.
“The badger is a protected species under the Bern Convention and as such has legal protection. There are a range of different environmental assessments that will need to be undertaken during the consultation stage before any proposals are submitted to the Berne Committee within the European Commission.
“We will be considering the strategy in depth during the coming weeks and seeking the views of key scientists working in this field. We have also requested a meeting with the TB Strategic Partnership Group to highlight public concerns and to obtain further details about the proposed wildlife intervention approach.”