Blair says public want to see end to badger cull plans

Alliance Environment spokesperson John Blair MLA will submit a petition to the Assembly this week, opposing badger cull proposed by an Executive Department.

Organised by USPCA and Ulster Wildlife, Mr Blair pledged his support and to bring it to the Assembly floor after the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) revealed plans of a badger cull as part of its bovine TB eradication strategy. Over 10,000 people have signed the petition, which will be presented to the Assembly tomorrow (Tuesday).

Mr Blair – Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Animal Welfare – said: “This petition gives a voice to all those concerned about this plan and I’m delighted to see how many people have come together in a bid to stop it.

“Working with the USPCA, Ulster Wildlife and the Northern Ireland Badger Group has meant we have been able to reach so many more people and make them aware of this concerning move on behalf of the Department.

“I do recognise there is an issue and whilst I am supportive of many of the measures proposed by DAERA to combat the disease, I strongly oppose intensive badger culling, as it would lead to the destruction of protected wildlife on an unprecedented scale, and I expected more engagement between the Department and the wildlife sector.

“With the number of signatures achieved, I now wait to see how the Department will respond, but would encourage the Minister to look at this seriously and provide clarity around his plans. This issue deserves his full attention.

“The Minister now has to come up with another plan and take the time to consider other options on the table – including more ethical alternatives to controlling bovine TB, in both the badger and cattle populations here, such as cattle vaccination and a test–vaccinate–remove strategy.”