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Wildlife Presentations: The badger
30 April 2008

Enjoy a close-up view of the fascinating badger species with this captivating compilation of wildlife footage. See how these social creatures interact with each other - from grooming, cleaning and playing.

Duration: 03:38

Watch our badger playlist

Help Protect Ireland's badger species

Tens of thousands of badgers have been snared by the Department of Agriculture as part of what has been slammed as "slaughter masquerading as science". Help convince the government to end this cruel and inhumane assault on the badger species. Please respond to our urgent action alerts below.

Campaign Postcard

Join our appeal to Minister Coughlan. Send one of our "Stop the Badger Snaring Slaughter" postcards today. To receive one or more copies, please get in touch with us now.


Please appeal to Minister Mary Coughlan to show compassion and suspend the cruel badger snaring operation. Remind her that the badger is a protected species in Ireland and that the Protection of Animals Act, for which she is responsible, makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal. Tell her that a recent report stated that "badger culling apparently has the capacity to increase badger-to-badger transmission of infection, potentially undermining anticipated reductions in badger-to-cattle transmission."

Minister Brendan Smith
Department of Agriculture
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.

Please write to the Minister for the Environment and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Remind them that the Wildlife Act, for which they are responsible, lists the badger as a protected species. Demand that they stop licensing the snaring and killing of thousands of badgers as part of a cruel and discredited TB eradication scheme.

Minister John Gormley
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government
Custom House, Dublin 1.
Tel: 01 888 2403.
Fax: 01 878 8640.

Dr. Ciaran O'Keeffe
Director, Licensing Unit
National Parks and Wildlife Service
7 Ely Place, Dublin 2
Email: Ciaran.O'
Tel: 01-888 3214

Slideshow exposes victims of Dept's cruel badger snaring

An ICABS slideshow displaying images of badgers caught and cruelly killed in Department of Agriculture snares is now available to view online. Tens of thousands of badgers have already been snared by the Department in what has been slammed as "slaughter masquerading as science".

Images: Dead badgers in Department snares

The following image shows a badger dead in an Irish Department of Agriculture snare. At the base of the tree to which the snare is attached are scratch marks where the badger desperately tried to claw its way to freedom. For more photos of snares and dead badgers, please visit our Badger Snaring Gallery.

"Irish badger cull is slaughter masquerading as science": Conservationists

Here we present a media statement issued in May 2003 by the UK-based National Federation of Badger Groups. The statement relates to the Irish Department of Agriculture’s massacre of tens of thousands of badgers as part of its flawed TB Eradication Scheme.

Claims by Irish scientists that exterminating badgers can reduce TB in cattle by up to 90%, were today lambasted by conservationists.

The claims were made on Radio 4's Farming Today programme (31 May 2003) by Irish scientists working on the so-called 'Four Areas Badger Removal Trial'.

"The Irish research is laughable. It has no scientifically valid 'controls' whatsoever. It is little more than slaughter masquerading as science and is no better than Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling'," said Dr Elaine King, chief executive of the National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG). The NFBG coordinates the views of conservation organisations representing more than five million members on the bovine TB issue.

"Research into whether a disease treatment is effective should always be complemented by 'controls' in which no treatment is applied. This is a fundamental rule is applied to everything from drug tests to the British Government's ongoing Krebs experiment into badgers and bovine TB. But Ireland has simply ignored these scientific standards, so its results are worthless.

"Furthermore, Ireland has never undertaken any research to assess whether badger culling is the most cost-effective or most humane way of controlling bovine TB. Irish scientists kill badgers by strangling them with a wire, and shooting those that survive the snare. We hardly think that such an approach will encourage consumers to buy Irish dairy produce."

The NFBG argues that, because farming is a more significant part of the economy in Ireland than in Britain, the Irish government lacks the courage to compel farmers to control TB through cattle-based measures even though there is clear evidence that such a strategy could be effective.

"In the wake of foot and mouth disease, the British Government grasped the nettle and this year cattle-based TB control measures will be introduced to manage the disease," said Dr King. "Clear evidence already shows that cattle are infectious with TB long before the disease is detected by the standard skin test. These cattle played a major role in spreading TB to new hotspots after foot and mouth disease.

"Irish scientists like to give the impression that badger culling will solve Ireland's bovine TB problem. But they cannot say how the trial could be implemented in reality. Do they really plan to exterminate all the badgers in Ireland in order to control a disease which has a low incidence in cattle?"

badger dead in snare
"The Irish research is laughable. It has no scientifically valid 'controls' whatsoever. It is little more than slaughter masquerading as science and is no better than Japan's so-called 'scientific whaling'." (Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Badger Groups).

The NFBG promotes the conservation, welfare and protection of badgers, their setts and habitats. It represents and supports 83 local voluntary badger groups throughout Britain, provides expert advice on all badger issues and works closely with the police, and other conservation and welfare organisations.

Positive Solutions

The NFBG believes the following positive solutions are priorities for the Government:

  • Restricting the movement of cattle from bovine TB areas
  • Improving cattle health and hygiene, backed by research and grants to help farmers
  • Developing an improved test for bovine TB in cattle
  • Testing cattle more frequently
  • Testing cattle before they are sold or moved off a farm
  • Researching the transmission of bovine TB, especially between cattle
  • Researching other factors leading to TB in cattle
  • Including bovine TB test dates on cattle passports
  • Developing a bovine TB vaccine.

Cattle infect badgers with TB: it's official

Statement from Badger Trust (UK) - October 2006

A major new report published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States' premier scientific journal, has revealed that cattle rapidly spread bovine TB to badgers [1]. The hugely significant findings mean that by controlling bovine TB in cattle through better TB testing, the prevalence of TB will also be reduced in badgers.

The research, from the Krebs Randomised Badger Culling Trial (RBCT), also confirms that killing badgers increases bovine TB in badger populations, probably by disrupting badgers' otherwise stable social order and by increasing the amount of contact that badgers have with cattle. This finding means that badger culling has no place in any science-based strategy to control bovine TB.

Significantly, the research has been peer-reviewed by independent, international scientists, so it cannot be undermined by the minority of out-of-touch vets who profess to have a better scientific understanding of the complex dynamics of this disease. The Badger Trust has provided a briefing for journalists to explain the findings.

Download a pdf copy of the report

Commenting on the findings, Badger Trust spokesman Trevor Lawson said: "This research confirms beyond doubt that cattle are the major vectors of bovine TB, readily infecting badgers and other cattle.

"The NFU and other farming lobby groups should now have the courage to call a halt to illegal badger killing and to immediately withdraw their unsupported demands for state-sponsored badger culls.

"Those callous vets who have demanded badger killing should hang their sorry heads in shame. They have undermined public confidence in the veterinary profession's commitment to animal welfare and severely damaged the profession's scientific integrity."

Confirmation that cattle rapidly spread TB to badgers was obtained as the result of another catastrophe created by farmers - foot and mouth disease (FMD). Prior to FMD and in the early stages of badger culling, the prevalence of bovine TB in culled badgers was around five per cent in the RBCT. But when TB testing of cattle stopped during FMD, the disease spread rapidly between cattle within herds. In 2002, the prevalence of TB in badgers shot up to more than 20 per cent and then declined as TB testing removed infected cattle. Careful analysis has ruled out the possibility that the changes occurred due to a suspension of badger culling during FMD.

The authors of the paper, from the Independent Scientific Group, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Central Science Laboratory, advise that:

"Badger culling apparently has the capacity to increase badger-to-badger transmission of infection, potentially undermining anticipated reductions in badger-to-cattle transmission. Likewise, cattle-to-badger transmission appears to be influenced by cattle testing regimes, which suggests that improved cattle controls might not only have immediate benefits through reduced cattle-to-cattle transmission, but could also ultimately reduce the probability of infection from wildlife … It may be helpful…to replace the traditional paradigm of a wildlife 'reservoir host' from which infection 'spills over' into livestock, with a more dynamic picture, including substantial transmission both within and between alternative host species."

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