Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Questions (186)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

186. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a badger vaccination programme announced earlier in 2018 has commenced; and his plans to end the culling of badgers which has caused an estimated 120,000 deaths to date. [41516/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Field trials testing the effectiveness of badger vaccination as an alternative to removal were conducted from 2014 to 2017 in areas where the wildlife program had been running in excess of 5 years and where local densities of badgers were considered low enough to be suitable candidates for vaccination with BCG. The findings confirmed that vaccination of badgers can play a role in reducing the level of infection in cattle. From January 2018 the formal vaccination programme commenced in the areas which formed part of the field trials, i.e. in parts of counties Monaghan, Longford, Galway, Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny, Cork and in all of Louth. Badgers in a vaccination area will be captured/vaccinated/released instead of being captured/culled. The vaccination program will continue on an annual basis, so each year’s births in vaccination areas will be vaccinated as they are captured. The vaccination area will be expanded incrementally to all parts of the country during the 2018-2022 period and it is anticipated that the rate of badger removal will reduce from the present c.6000 badgers per year to less than 1,000 in c.4-5 years’ time.