Year 3 of North’s badger TB project to begin in June/July

The third year of the badger Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Project is to begin in a 100km area around Banbridge in Co. Down, the North’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIlveen has said.

The Department of Agriculture in the North, DAERA, expects the project will commence in late June/early July.

Similar to Year 2 of the project, Minister McIlveen has said that it will involve the capture of wild badgers, sampling, micro-chipping and vaccinating them against bovine TB with the removal, from the TVR area, of any badgers testing positive for bovine TB.

The TVR research project began in 2014, which DAERA has said the aim of which is to describe the effects of implementing a TVR approach on badgers in an area of high cattle TB prevalence.

It will greatly add to the Department’s knowledge base and provide currently unknown information on badgers and specifically TB in badgers.

Year two of the project was completed in October 2015 in the TVR selected area of 100km around Banbridge, Co.Down, during which there were 692 badger capture events.

DAERA has said that this was made up of 341 unique badgers plus a further 351 re-captured badgers, with some badgers being captured on more than one occasion.

The Minister thanked the 95% of farmers and land owners who granted access to their land last year to enable her veterinary staff to carry out this important work.

“I would encourage any farmers or landowners who did not participate in years one or two of the programme to consider doing so as we move into years three to five of the project.

“The worldwide shortage of BCG vaccine meant that the badger BCG vaccine used in years one and two was unavailable for purchase.

“It was possible, however, to obtain a supply of out-of-date BCG vaccine from the Welsh Government.

“Whilst the Welsh Government could not legally use this supply in a badger vaccination programme it will be permissible for DAERA to use it as part of TVR, given that it is a research project.

“DAERA officials are in the process of organising a stakeholder event for farmers in the TVR area, to update them on this development,” she said.