The new statistics show a larger reduction in bTB in Northern Ireland, where no badgers have been culled, and have probed animal welfare groups to deem the UK environment minister Owen Paterson’s description of successful badger cull as “blarney”.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released statistics from England which showed that, up until August, there has been an 8.4% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered due to bTB, compared with the same time last year.
Mike Rendle from the Northern Ireland Badger Group said: “Northern Ireland, like Great Britain, experienced a surge in bovine TB following the foot and mouth epidemic. The South of Ireland was largely unaffected by this, which makes Northern Ireland’s achievement all the more remarkable.
“Mr Paterson has grossly misrepresented the TB situation in Ireland and should instead be using the progress in Northern Ireland as an exemplar for future UK strategy. Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands with an agreed approach to dealing with bovine TB. This science-led strategy benefits from the broad support of industry and environmental sectors with an interest in tackling this disease.”
Pointing to the fact that 6,000 badger a year are killed due to government “snares” in Ireland, policy advisor for Care for the Wild, Dominic Dyer, claimed that the “vast majority” will not be infected with bTB.
He added: “To continually hold up the Republic of Ireland as the ultimate achievement of a culling policy is at best blarney, and at worst a complete con. Accurate reading of the statistics show that it is cattle management, not culling that works. Meanwhile, Mr Paterson’s perfect case study has led to the slaughter of nearly 100,000 badgers in Ireland for no proven benefit. It’s shocking.”