Final year of NI ‘Test and Vaccinate or Remove’ badger project gets under way

The fifth and final year of the department’s Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Wildlife Intervention Research Project commenced today in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) research project, which began in 2014, operates across a 100km² area around Banbridge, Co. Down.

It aims to monitor the effects of implementing such an approach on badgers in an area of high cattle TB prevalence.

It will supplement the department’s knowledge base and provide new information on badgers – specifically TB in badgers.

A final report on the project is expected to be published in late 2019.

This year, similar to the last three years of the study, the project will involve the capture of badgers, sampling, micro-chipping and vaccinating them against bovine TB with the removal of any badgers testing positive for bovine TB.

Landowners in the area have been sent letters to inform them of the commencement of field activities.

A DAERA spokesman said the department’s long-term aim is to eradicate bovine TB in cattle in Northern Ireland.

However, with incidence rates of the disease not far off the all-time high, this is not likely to happen any time soon.

The spokesman added that the department would like to thank landowners for their continued access to their land and support for this important research project.

Bovine TB is a significant cost to farmers due to movement restrictions, loss of productivity and follow-up herd testing, and to the department in terms of compensation payments and animal testing.

TVR programme

The TVR intervention research project was launched in 2014. The project requires the capture of badgers between July and November annually.

In 2014, all captured badgers were sampled, microchipped and vaccinated against bovine TB before they were released.

However, from the second year of the project on, all TB test positive badgers are removed from the TVR area.

Farmers and landowners in the TVR area who did not take part in the last couple of years but wish to take part this year should contact the Newry Department Veterinary Office on: 0300-200-7840.