Written Answers. - Bovine TB.

Ivor Callely

Question:

35 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the results to date of the ongoing research projects quantifying the role of wildlife in the transmission of bovine TB to cattle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1802/96]

Research into the role of the badger in the transmission of bovine TB indicates that the disease is endemic in the country's badger population which is estimated to be in the region of 200,000 adult badgers. In excess of 10 per cent of badgers examined under the research programme have disclosed visible lesions. It has been established by DNA typing that both badgers and bovines can share the same strain of TB. Epidemiological investigations have indicated that a significant percentage of serious TB herd breakdowns are associated with disease in the indigenous badger population. The badger removal programme under the east Offaly project has resulted in a significant reduction in bovine disease levels in the area. The new proposals which I propose to introduce this year include a commitment that there will be a comprehensive research programme aimed at preventing the spread of TB by wildlife.