Bovine TB research project begins in Banbridge area

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced that the Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) Wildlife Intervention Research Project has started in the Banbridge area.

The Minister said: “The TVR Wildlife Intervention Research Project has commenced in a 100km² area around Banbridge. This project is unique to these islands and involves seeking access permission from land owners, setting humane traps to capture badgers, taking samples from badgers, microchipping and vaccinating them against Bovine TB or where they test positive for TB, removing them.

“The aim of the TVR research project is to describe the effects of implementing a test and vaccinate or remove intervention on badgers in an area of high cattle TB prevalence, such as in the Banbridge area. It will also greatly add to our knowledge base and provide currently unknown data on badgers. The TVR research project will run for five years between May and December each year.”

The first stage of the project is to establish the initial level of TB in badgers and, by the vaccination of badgers, reduce the possible effects from potential perturbation when infected badgers are removed from next year.

The Minister encouraged all land owners to complete their permission slip recently issued by the Department to those in the TVR area.

She explained: “A Department researcher will call and collect permission slips over the coming weeks. We had an excellent uptake rate for last years’ Badger Sett Survey at 82%, but we now need uptake for TVR as close to 100% as possible. Once land owners give permission to access their land, they will have no further practical involvement as the teams will be fully staffed and equipped to implement the TVR research project on the ground.”

In closing the Minister also said: “I would also ask farming representatives and environmental groups to encourage all land owners in the 100km² area around Banbridge to give permission for DARD staff to implement the TVR Project on their land. This is an immensely important piece of research into bovine TB which I know will add to the pool of international knowledge and assist in designing the longer term path to eradication. Bovine TB causes immense disruption within the Industry with high costs to the taxpayer and to farming families. It is so important we all work together to give the project the best chance of success.”