The second year of Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Wildlife Intervention Research Project is now underway in a 100km² area between Rathfriland and Banbridge.
TVR is a unique project which involves the capture of wild badgers, sampling, micro-chipping and vaccinating them against bovine TB.
Year one of the TVR project was completed in September 2014 during which a total 630 captures were made, this consisted of 280 single captures and 350 re-captures. All setts are monitored annually and recapture takes place at the most active setts.
Last year all captured badgers were sampled, micro-chipped and vaccinated against bovine TB. Following the vaccination process all badgers were then released. From this year, any captured badgers infected with bovine TB will be removed.
It is hoped that this approach will see a reduction in TB incidences in both the cattle and wildlife populations in the area.
In light of recent positive progression toward reducing the number of herd and single animal TB incidences in the south the UFU animal health and welfare committee met with the IFA to discuss how strategies differ between the two countries.
Speaking after the meeting, animal health and welfare chairman Harper Doupe said: “This was an excellent opportunity for the UFU and IFA to come together and discuss important animal welfare issues affecting farmers north and south of the border.
“There has been a disappointing increase in the number of herd and animal incidences of TB in Northern Ireland over the last 12 months where the number of herd incidences has increased significantly from 424 reported cases to 519 this year.
“Conversely, the number of TB reactors in cattle in the ROI has fallen from 33,702 in 2001 to 16,029 in 2014. National herd incidence has also fallen from roughly 7.5 per cent to less than 2.5 per cent. This reduction comes following the implementation of an extensive wildlife control program in the south.”
Harper added: “The meeting was a good chance for the animal health and welfare committee to learn about the ROI’s experience in lowering TB incidence. It is hoped that the TVR research project will add to knowledge on badgers, again highlighting the importance of controlling wildlife as progress continues with our own internal consultation on the TB Strategic partnerships group’s interim report.”