‘Stop; Stop; Tell’: Department issues advice on badgers and TB

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is issuing advice to farmers on the relationship between badgers and bovine TB, as part of an effort to “renew communications and engagement with farmers” on the issue.

As part of this, farmers are being advised to “Stop; Stop; Tell”.

This is explained as:

  • Stop cattle getting to badgers at pasture by fencing off badger setts and latrines;
  • Stop badgers getting to cattle at housing by placing skirting on shed gates;
  • Tell the department of any badger activity on your farm.

The department is highlighting that, in order to humanely remove badgers where they have been epidemiologically associated with a disease breakdown, the authorities need good information regarding badger locations.

The information from farmers and huntsmen, including when farmers group together to coordinate searches for badgers, is considered a key part of these efforts, and the department is encouraging farmers to coordinate in this way.

Over the coming weeks, text messages will be sent out to farmers asking them to view a video online regarding badgers and TB, similar to the texts that were sent out in spring this year.

Farmers are asked to tell the department of badger activity, and the department said that all setts (that it is aware of) will be visited in the coming months, starting with those in high-priority areas.

The department highlighted that it uses software that holds information on some 40,000 setts. It also monitors vaccinated badgers over time.

The department are also working with UCD and Waginingen University in the Netherlands on measuring the performance of vaccination in nine sites throughout the country.

The department outlined the following as signs of badger activity:

  • Paths 15 to 20cm wide – well worn down low when going across walls/ditches;
  • Setts with 25-30cm entrance which does not narrow;
  • Multiple entrances to setts;
  • Large spoil heaps at sett entrances with larger stones;
  • Bedding associated with setts;
  • Snuffle holes;
  • Overturned cow-pads;
  • Latrine pits where dog-like but darker faeces is regularly deposited;
  • Footprint has kidney shaped pad with straight toe alignment.