DAERA announces badger sett surveys

Date published: 17 January 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Chief Veterinary Officer, Robert Huey, today announced that DAERA would commence badger sett surveys in two bovine tuberculosis (bTB) problem areas in Northern Ireland.

During the surveys, DAERA staff will survey land within each selected area to locate and map badger setts using GPS devices. There will be no interference with the badger populations during these surveys. The information gathered as part of this work will be used to help inform potential future wildlife intervention policies with the aim of strengthening DAERA’s bTB Eradication Programme.

The surveys will take place in two areas, one around Aghadowey, Co Londonderry and the other near Omagh. Fieldwork will commence in January 2018 and continue throughout the spring.

The Department intends to write to herd keepers or landowners in each area to ask them to participate in the surveys.

Mr Huey said: “The badger sett surveys are an important step in terms of gathering evidence to inform future wildlife intervention policies and I would encourage those contacted to allow staff access to land to enable this work to progress.”

The Department is currently consulting on a package of TB proposals, which includes recommendations for wildlife intervention policies. These badger sett surveys will be taking place without prejudice to any decisions about future policies. Decisions on future wildlife intervention policies will take into account all responses received during the consultation as well as any other new evidence gathered through these surveys.

The consultation closes on 1 February 2018 and Mr Huey is encouraging all those with an interest in bTB eradication to respond.

He went on to say: “This consultation is an opportunity for everyone with an interest in shaping the future of DAERA’s bTB eradication strategy to express their views. I would strongly encourage anyone with a vested interest in bTB eradication, to respond to the consultation which closes on 1 February 2018.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Due to the significant rise of bovine TB (annual herd incidence in (October 2017 was 9.47%), the concern of the farming community and the pressure that rising bovine TB Programme costs has on our budget, the Department decided that, in the broader public interest, consult on proposals responding to the recommendations made by TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) in December 2016.
  2. The TBSPG published their report, ‘An Integrated Eradication Programme – Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Strategy for Northern Ireland’ in December 2016. The report can be found on the DAERA website.
  3. A Consultation on a new bTB Eradication Strategy was launched on 30 November 2017 and runs until 1 February 2018, and can be found on the DAERA website.
  4. In autumn 2017, DAERA surveyed badgers for bTB infection in the two areas (one around Aghadowey, Co Londonderry and the other near Omagh). These areas were selected as they have a high density of herds with bTB reactors and are also thought to have a high density of badgers. The detection surveys involved, DAERA staff mapping badger setts, blood testing a small number of badgers and the removal of any test positive badgers for laboratory examination in these localities.
  5. In addition to the preliminary investigations to establish if bTB infection exists in badgers in these two areas, DAERA is now proceeding to survey for badger setts in the areas. No badgers will be trapped or tested in either area, during these surveys.
  6. These surveys will be taking place without prejudice to any decisions about potential future policies and the information gained will be used to help inform potential future wildlife intervention policies.
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  8. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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