By Stephen Cadogan
Vaccination of badgers has become an integral part of the bovine TB eradication programme.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said: “This marks a major step forward in the bovine TB eradication programme.”
He said research findings have confirmed badger vaccination can help to reduce infection in cattle, and addresses one of the critical elements in the complex eradication challenge.
“This will now allow us move forward in the early part of this year to the development and relaunch, in consultation with stakeholders, of a comprehensive strategy to finally eradicate TB. “ Vaccination of badgers will be carried out by staff from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It will commence in the areas where field trials demonstrating effectiveness of badger vaccination have already taken place, but will roll out incrementally to other parts of the country, with vaccination gradually replacing the need to remove badgers.
According to the Department, there is widespread infection in the badger population in Ireland, which can be transmitted back to cattle.
The current TB eradication programme includes removal of badgers under licence in certain circumstances.