Sunday, 5 July 2015

Badger cull to begin in NI to combat bovine TB

By Conor MacauleyBBC NI Environment Correspondent

3 July 2015 
From the sectionNorthern Ireland

Media captionThe badger cull in Northern Ireland is different to what is happening across the UK and Ireland

Northern Ireland is to start a limited cull of badgers as part of a research project to combat a disease in cattle that costs the taxpayer £30m a year.

Despite a long-standing eradication programme, bovine TB still affects about 6% of cattle herds in Northern Ireland and it is on the rise.

When cattle get the disease, none of the herd can be moved off the farm unless it is to the abattoir.

Cattle that test positive are removed, culled and farmers are compensated.

There has been a long debate about the extent to which the disease in cattle is linked to badgers, which share a similar strain.

There is no definitive evidence of whether badgers infect cattle, or the other way round.

For the last year, Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture has been trapping and testing badgers in a 100sq km area between Banbridge and Rathfriland in County Down.

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