Fourth year of TVR project set to begin

European badger (Meles meles), young cub foraging in daylight, England, UK
European badger (Meles meles), young cub foraging in daylight, England, UK

The fourth year of the Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Wildlife Intervention Research Project is to begin on Monday 19 June in a 100km² area around Banbridge, County Down.

The TVR research project, which began in 2014, aims to monitor the effects of implementing a TVR approach on badgers in an area of high cattle TB prevalence.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) says it will greatly add to the Department’s knowledge base and provide currently unknown information on badgers and specifically TB in badgers.

The fourth year of the project, like the last two years of the study, 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.

Year three of the Project was completed in October 2016, during which there were 586 badger capture events.

These were made up of 271 unique badgers plus a further 315 re-captured badgers, with some badgers being captured on more than one occasion.

The worldwide issues around the production of BCG vaccine meant that the strain of badger BCG vaccine used during the first three years of the project is unavailable.

The Department, however, obtained a supply of human BCG vaccine (BCG Sofia strain) for use in the project which is the same as the vaccine currently used in the Republic of Ireland for its badger vaccination programmes.

DAERA officials are in the process of organising a stakeholder event for farmers in the TVR area to update them on the project as the commencement of fieldwork approaches.

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.

Farmers and land owners in the TVR area who did not take part in the last couple of years, and wish to take part this year, should contact Newry DVO, Glenree House, Unit 2, Springhill Road, Carnbane Industrial Estate, Carnbane, Newry, BT35 6EF – telephone 0300 200 7840.