The ICMSA President, John Comer, said that the figures highlighted the fast emerging problems around the levels of TB infected wildlife – most specifically, deer – and the need for the various Government Departments and agencies to begin addressing the issue with the urgency and conviction now so manifestly required. Mr Comer said that ICMSA had repeatedly identified areas in Wicklow and to a lesser degree, Kerry and Clare, as requiring a concerted action to control and cull the out-of-control numbers of wild deer which some experts now estimated to have reached 150,000 head nationally. He noted that the accepted rate of TB infection in wild deer was in the region of 15% which translated to at least 22,500 infected animals wandering the country and cross-infecting into farmers’ herds.
“We obviously must keep perspective on this, but, by the same token, we repeat our warning that it’s simply too risky to continue permitting this level of growth in the deer population where we know that there’s a double-digit percentage of TB infection in that group. We know, for instance, that in a sample targeted cull of deer in North Wicklow, the incidence of TB found was 100 times that of cattle. There’s been a degree of complacency on this issue and the result is these disquieting figures pointing to a degree of infection in officially clear herds. It’s time – and actually, it’s well past the time – to move on this. The TB Compensation Scheme is itself wholly insufficient and out-of-date and that has to be overhauled, but the priority is to minimise the chance of any cross-infection and that has to mean really serious control of the wild deer population.”
Ends 8 May 2015.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office