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bTB incidence drops in Gloucestershire and Somerset - Defra
“Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK."

Dismay as badger cull is rolled out to 11 new areas

The incidence of bovine TB has fallen in Gloucestershire and Somerset, new data from the government suggests.

Defra says bTB levels in the two areas are now around half what they were before the four-year pilot badger culls began.

TB incidence in Gloucestershire fell from 10.4 per cent before culling started, to 5.6 per cent in year four of the cull. Meanwhile, in Somerset, levels fell from 24 per cent to 12 per cent.

Announcing the new figures, the government also revealed that licences have been granted for badger culls in 10 new areas within the High Risk Area. One additional licence has been granted within the Low Risk Area in Cumbria.

In addition, a new round of applications has opened for Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme grants. The scheme was suspended for two years after a global vaccine shortage, before resuming in 2017.

Farming minister George Eustice said: “Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK. There is no single measure that will provide an easy answer which is why we are committed to pursuing a wide range of interventions to protect the future of our dairy and beef industries and eradicate the disease within 20 years.

“No one wants to be culling badgers forever so the progress reported today is encouraging.

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust expressed “extreme dismay” that the county has now been granted a culling licence. Over 40,000 badgers could be culled by the end of 2018 as a result of the extension of the cull to new areas, the trust added.

Julian Woolford, chief executive, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “It is unacceptable that the government has not waited for the results of their own review – which we understand is to be published imminently – before forging ahead with another year of ineffective and expensive badger culling.

“The badger cull is a dangerous distraction from addressing the main route of bTB transmission in cattle which is between cattle.”

Senior policy manager Ellie Brodie added: “We’re calling on the government to invest in medicine, not marksmen. The costs of killing badgers are much higher than vaccinating them – it costs £496.51 to kill a badger compared with £82 to vaccinate a badger.”

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.