Badger Trust calls on Northern Ireland Executive not to introduce ‘English-style’ mass badger cull

Consultation response urges DAERA to abandon mass cull proposal as least effective, most inhumane and expensive bovine TB management option

Badger Trust, the voice for badgers in England and Wales, has responded to the main recommended policy to introduce an ‘English-style’ mass cull of badgers in Northern Ireland with a strong and clear dismissal. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) consultation, which closed on Friday, 10th September, set out options for management of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB), a respiratory disease in cattle, and proposed introducing a ‘non-selective cull’. This means that, as currently happens in England, badgers would simply be killed with no regard to their bTB status.

Adam Laidlaw, Executive Director of Badger Trust, said:

‘It is extraordinary, given the opportunity to learn from two distinct examples on its doorstep in England and Wales, that Northern Ireland should even consider following the least effective, most expensive, least humane, and most disproportionate option as used in England.

‘And only then to follow it up later with vaccination of the badger population. This is twice the cost to farmers and taxpayers alike with little hope of any impact on cattle disease.’

He continued: ‘Despite many efforts and at significant costs, the Government in Westminster still cannot produce any unequivocal evidence that the English culling of badgers is having any effect on disease rates among cattle. Compensation rates have actually increased, whilst bTB prevalence remains largely stable despite eight years of mass badger culling. Badgers are not the problem and a cull is not the solution. For the benefit of badgers, cattle and farmers, we urge DAERA to take this opportunity to change tack now. ’

The DAERA consultation closed on Friday, 10th September 2021, and Badger Trust submitted a 13-page response to the six question survey. A 10,000 plus signature petition calling for DAERA to remove the option of a non-selective cull from the options to be included in the bTB eradication strategy is being jointly run by the Northern Ireland Badger Group, USPCA and Ulster Wildlife. This is ongoing and has been promoted by wildlife campaigners such as Chris Packham.

Image of badger by Dod Morrison and text: Badger Trust calls on Northern Ireland Executive not to introduce English-style mass badger cull