“If you look at what’s happened in the Republic of Ireland, the number of incidents has come down from 45,000 to 15,000.”
Owen Paterson, 7 March 2014
Government ministers have long looked west to justify the policy of culling badgers in England.
The Republic of Ireland has also had a historical problem with TB in cows, and a big population of wild badgers.
We still don’t know for sure if badgers infect cattle (rather than the other way around) and how the disease is spread, but the Irish government is sufficiently convinced there’s a link after carrying out two key culling trials.
Ireland has actually been culling badgers since the 1980s, and the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, is keen to attribute recent falls in rates of bovine TB infection in the country to the decline of the wild badger.
But like much of the science in the great badger debate, the truth is far from black and white. (more…)