Fewer badgers will be culled under the Department of Agriculture’s TB eradication efforts as more badgers are vaccinated, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

Minister McConalogue claimed that shifting the focus of the fight against TB from culling to vaccination will be effective in keeping TB from entering cattle herds.

The Minister’s comments were in response to a question brought by Michael Moynihan TD last week.

“Badger vaccination is thus being substituted for continued culling of badgers such that a significant reduction in the numbers of badgers culled can be achieved over the coming years, while still maintaining effective control of the risk posed to cattle,” Minister McConalogue said.

Reporting of setts

He stated that areas to be targeted for vaccination efforts can be identified by badger setts reporting by State agencies carrying out activities on land when answering another question posed by Willie O’Dea TD.

Vaccinations can also be targeted to badgers active in areas where new roads are being built or large swipes of forestry are being clear felled, as it is thought they are more likely to move from these places.

Some research has suggested that a “small increase” in TB rates are found in places when clear felling occurs, the Minister added.

“However, as the research is far from conclusive, this is being further investigated by my Department - prompting further studies in this area to help further understand what is happening when clear felling occurs.”