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Vets welcome NI plans to prosecute BVD offenders
“We welcome this announcement and hope that it will motivate the small number of herd keepers who continue to keep untested animals to comply with the legislation" - Aurelie Moralis, BVA NI Branch president. 
A small number of herd keepers continue to keep untested animals

Vets have welcomed a move by Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to take enforcement action against herd keepers who breach the testing requirements of the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) eradication programme.

Under the new plans, herds with significant numbers of untested animals born before 1 March 2016 (when compulsory testing began) will be contacted and will have 30 days to have their animals tested. Failure to do so may result in prosecution.

Aurelie Moralis, president of BVA Northern Ireland Branch, said: “The introduction of compulsory BVD testing in 2016 has proved very successful in moving Northern Ireland towards our ultimate goal of being BVD free. The majority of farmers are already engaging well with the process to control BVD. However, the success of the eradication programme relies on the commitment and compliance of every herd keeper in Northern Ireland.
 
“We welcome this announcement and hope that it will motivate the small number of herd keepers who continue to keep untested animals to comply with the legislation. We encourage vets to remind their clients that BVD testing is both advisable and compulsory and that failure to comply may now result in prosecution.”

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey said: “Since BVD testing became compulsory we have seen a significant drop in the prevalence of BVD, however, it is disappointing that a small number of herd keepers continue to keep untested animals. Some of these are likely to be persistently infected with BVD virus so they are a disease risk, both to the current herd and to neighbouring herds.”

He continued: “BVD eradication is dependent on herd keepers being aware of the status of their animals and taking appropriate action. The Department has a responsibility to ensure the legislation is adhered to and we will seek to enforce this through the courts if necessary.”

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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.