Ireland will move away from badger culling to vaccination as soon as possible, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.

He said Ireland’s approach to TB eradication is working, while the country still has a healthy badger population and a much healthier livestock population than previously. However, he said his Department would continue targeted culls of badgers until it is possible to do so without undermining the effectiveness of the eradication of TB.

“I will move away from culling badgers, as soon as I believe we can do that without undermining the effectiveness of our overall TB eradication programme. We have to take account of the welfare of all animals. But we will move from a targeted badger cull, where they has been outbreaks of TB, to a targeted badger vaccination as soon as we can do that without undermining the effectiveness of overall TB eradication.”

Speaking on an video update for August, he said that the culling process does not involve snares, but involves trapping badgers and putting them down as humanely as possible.

He also said that the cost of compensation to farmers has moved from an estimated €60 million a year to €40 million a year. He said the Department has been working for the last number of years to eradicate TB from Ireland. TB has been a huge problem for people in the past and our livestock still, he said, but Ireland has made fantastic progress on this. “We are trying to target problem areas which contribute to the spread TB.

“If badgers are carrying TB, which they do, then we do target areas where there have been TB outbreaks. And, if we have reason to believe that outbreak is linked to a badger population, and the badgers have TB, surely the right thing to be doing here, from a welfare point of view, is reduce the amount of TB in Ireland both in badgers and in cattle herds.”

Ireland, he said, has less TB now than since records of TB began back in the early 1950s. “So the TB eradication programme is working in ireland, more effectively than it is in the UK.” His badger comments are at 10 minutes.