Wallace proposes reintroducing grey wolf to combat bovine TB

An Independent TD has asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, if he will consider examining the feasibility of reintroducing the grey wolf species.

Wexford TD Mick Wallace suggested that the move could be “a cost-effective alternative or additional measure to the bovine tuberculosis eradication programme”.

In a parliamentary question, Wallace asked Minister Creed to make a statement on the matter.


Minister Creed’s response

Responding to Wallace’s question, Minister Creed said: “The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (the IUCN) has developed guidelines on reintroductions and conservation translocations.

“These guidelines were developed by conservation experts and practitioners and they provide the benchmark for international best practice in this field.

The IUCN document sets out an initial checklist for those considering a reintroduction project such as the grey wolf.

“One of the first requirements is that there should be strong evidence that the threats that caused any previous extinction have been removed.

“The National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht have advised my department that any feasibility assessment for the reintroduction of the grey wolf to Ireland would fall at this first hurdle as there is limited evidence that the causes of its previous extinction have been removed.

Research carried out on TB in deer in Ireland had found that in certain areas where there are high densities of deer, cattle and badgers living alongside each other, the same strains of TB can circulate between them.

However, Minister Creed concluded: “There is currently no evidence that deer play a significant role in the spread of TB to cattle in most parts of Ireland.”