Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Other Questions

Bovine Disease Controls

10:40 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

We will look at the report. It would be dishonest of me to say that I do not think that the badger targeted cull programme is being done in as humane a way as we can do it. If there are other suggestions as to how we can do it better, we would happily take them on board but to suggest it is not working would be wrong. This has been a hugely successful programme where we have virtually halved bovine TB in Ireland. We have less bovine TB in Ireland now than at any time since 1954 when records began. The UK has not had success in reducing the incidence of bovine TB. I suggest this is partly because it has not been able to take the same approach towards a targeted culling programme where it is aware of a localised bovine TB problem and outbreak.

I want to move to a vaccination programme where we vaccinate badgers against TB.

We will do that when we feel we can do it and maintain the approach that we have at the moment, which is driving down TB numbers. I do not think we can do that purely on animal welfare grounds without having negative consequences for the spread of TB. However, as soon as we feel we can do that, we will do it. I will happily look at the report to which the Deputy referred. If she knows of instances where badgers were trapped inappropriately, I would like to hear about it. We have an approach which insists that traps are set in the most humane way possible. However, the idea that badgers actively avoid cattle because they are shy animals, which they are, and therefore there is no connection between the two does not stack up when one looks at how TB is actually spread, through urine, faeces and so forth.


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