Badgers avoid cattle: Landmark finding in Irish badger study
09 April 2015
For decades, the Department of Agriculture has blamed badgers for spreading TB to cattle. With a licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department operatives have cruelly snared and killed an estimated 100,000 of the "protected" creatures over the past 30 years.
But new research has dramatically revealed that, contrary to Department of Agriculture claims, badgers actually avoid cattle.
The findings of a major research project which has been running for four years cast even greater doubt on Department claims that badgers must be killed to reduce the spread of bovine TB - claims previously condemned as "slaughter masquerading as science".
What makes the latest research perhaps even more significant for the persecuted badger is that it is being carried out by the Department of Agriculture and the National Parks and Wildlife Service themselves (along with a team from Trinity College Dublin).
Featured on the latest episode of "Living the Wildlife", the so-called Wicklow N11 Badger Study found that badgers normally keep away from fields of cattle and yards with cattle in them.
Speaking on the RTE programme, Department of Agriculture Veterinary Inspector Teresa Mac White outlined part of the study involving 40 badgers who sent back 31,000 locations via attached GPS-enabled collars.
"What showed up was consistently, all the badgers avoided going in to farm yards," Ms Mac White stated. "If they did go in to a yard, it was more likely to be a horse yard or a disused yard. They all consistently avoided going in to yards on cattle farms. That was a most unexpected finding."
Revealing another finding, she went on to say: "Badgers will actively avoid going in to fields where there are cattle. So when they go out on their nightly wanderings and they find there are cattle in a field, they'll divert off somewhere else. And even if that's one of their preferred foraging areas, they'll still decide to avoid it."
According to Badger Watch Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust, 6,000 Department of Agriculture snares are set in Ireland every night and there are fears that the species is now endangered.
"Conservationists do not accept the theory that badgers are guilty of spreading bovine TB in the first place," Badger Watch says on its website. "The route of infection from badger to cow under normal farm conditions has never been fully explained. The evidence remains circumstantial."
The results of the new research will provide renewed impetus to the campaigns calling for the cruel badger cull to be cancelled.
You can watch the episode of Living the Wildlife on the RTE Player and on Youtube:
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Ireland: Stop badger snaring cruelty NOW
Get in touch with Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to demand an end to his Department's cruel badger cull. Tell the Minister that he must take on board new research findings which have shown that badgers actively avoid cattle fields and yards of cattle.
Minister Simon Coveney
Minister for Agriculture
Department of Agriculture
Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510.
Fax: 01-661 1013.
Please write to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and to 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 Heather Humphreys
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs
23 Kildare Street
Tel: (01) 631 3800
Director, Licensing Unit
National Parks and Wildlife Service
7 Ely Place, Dublin 2
Tel: 01-888 3214
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