Anoutbreak of bovine TB (bTB) in County Durham, previously TB free, is beingblamed on diseased cattle being moved from the south west.
Reportedin the Northern Echo, farmers are quoted as being unhappy that cattle frominfected with TB were brought here from a high-risk area. The Animal Healthand Veterinary Laboratories Agency, which works with Defra, said: It isbelieved that the infection was inadvertently carried in cattle bought from ahigh risk area of the country.
DominicDyer, Policy Advisor for wildlife charity Care for the Wild International,said: “Its no good the Government and the National Farmers Unionblaming badgers for the spread of bovine TB, when its clear that cattle are amajor factor in the spread of the disease.
Thenew outbreak of bovine TB in Country Durham was a disaster waiting to happen.With over 13 million cattle movements a year and poor biosecurity, TB testingsystems and cattle control movements, its very likely this outbreak was due toinfected cattle being moved illegally from high risk areas.
Ratherthan extending the disastrous badger cull pilots which have no scientific,economic or animal welfare justification and increase the risk of perturbation,Owen Paterson should bring an immediate stop to killing badgersand divert DEFRA’s expertise and resources into tighteningbiosecurity and cattle movement controls.
DominicDyer also raised concerns that this outbreak would somehow be used to justifythe badger culls.
Touse this outbreak as further justification for a badger cull would be grosslymisleading. The farmers in County Durham arent blaming badgers, they areblaming other farmers. Only a combination of better TB testing, tighter cattlemovement controls and badger and cattle vaccination will reduce the spread ofbovine TB.