The levels of bovine TB have remained disappointingly high in Wicklow when compared with the progress achieved nationally, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
Nationally herd incidence has declined annually in recent years and at the end of 2014 stood at 3.64% compared with 5.88% in 2008. However herd incidence in Wicklow remains above 8%.
Minster Coveney said the Department of Agriculture remains of the view that infection from wildlife, in particular badgers, remains a particular issue in the Wicklow area.
He cited that a recent study conducted in the Callary area detected a TB culture confirmation rate in badgers of over 26% which compares with a national rate of 13.3%.
The level of TB found in badgers was also considerably higher than that found in deer in that area, where 4.8% of deer had visible lesions, with 15.5% culturing positive for TB, he said.
“Strain typing with a view to establishing a clearer picture of the origin or transmission pathways for the infection as between the species is ongoing,” he said.
According to Minster Coveney the department continues to implement a badger removal programme in Wicklow as it does in other relevant areas, responsibility for wild deer rests, under the Wildlife Acts, with the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
He said a non-statutory Irish Deer Management forum has recently been established with an independent chairman and includes representation from stakeholder groups, as well as the Departments of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
The Minster said it is intended that results of the exercise conducted in Callary will initially be considered by the forum.