Badger Trust & Northern Ireland Badger Group meet with the Northern Ireland TB Strategic Partnership

Badger Trust & Northern Ireland Badger Group met with the Northern Ireland TB Strategic Partnership Group at Stormont in Belfast on Monday 20 March. The meeting was held to discuss the Bovine TB Eradication Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The Strategic Partnership Group is made up of the Chief Veterinary Officer for NI together with leading animal health & disease control, scientists, livestock vets and representatives from Ulster Farmers Union. 

The meeting proved a very useful opportunity for an exchange of views on cattle measures to reduce the spread of bovine TB and the role of badgers as a wildlife reservoir for the spread of the disease. 

We welcome much of the NI TB eradication strategy, which is very much in line with the Welsh Government approach. 

The Strategy does include the option of targeted badger control policy, based on a test vaccinate and removal policy. 

A 5 year TVR project is still being undertaken in NI  (3 years completed) and the data from this project will be key to any policy decisions going forward on badger culling. 

From our discussions with the TB Strategic Partnership Group, its clear that no steps are likely to be taken on badger removal until the research data from the TVR project becomes available to officials and Ministers.

The ongoing political uncertainty in NI will also delay the implementation of the Bovine TB Eradication Strategy. 

When a new Agriculture Minister is appointed, they are likely to go out to further consultation on the TB Eradication Strategy (including the badger culling part of the strategy).

The death of Martin McGuinness might help push Sin Fein who did very well in the NI Assembly elections on 2 March to reach a power sharing agreement with the Unionists and SDLP, but if not a further round of elections is on the cards.

When the new Assembly is finally formed, the Badger Trust will move ahead with briefing MLA'S of all parties in Stormont and seeking a meeting with the new Agriculture Minister to lobby against any badger culling policy in Northern Ireland.

The Badger Trust remains deeply opposed to the culling of any badgers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.