Effective, well-planned action needed

Date: Monday 7th August 2017

THE news that bovine tuberculosis has been detected in wildlife in Eden has come as a devastating blow to farmers across the district.

More than 200 members of the farming community packed a meeting at the Stoneybeck Inn, near Penrith, on Thursday evening to hear from veterinary and agricultural experts about the implications of the outbreak and the moves being made to tackle it. This is the first time in several decades that bovine TB has been detected in badgers in Cumbria.

Those in the agricultural community are painfully aware that an outbreak of TB in the wildlife population can be hard to stamp out — with vaccination or culling of wild badgers just some of the methods which have been tried with varying degrees of success elsewhere.

Early efforts to pin down TB cases in the district through recording and testing badgers killed on the roads appear to be floundering as a helpline put in place by the government agency in charge is not functioning as it should.

TB can spread from wild animals to cattle, with the end result in many cases that the cattle must be destroyed. This latest blow has hit farmers already facing great uncertainties over arrangements for their industry post-Brexit, as well as everyday concerns such as fluctuating prices for their products.

While the management of TB in wildlife is notoriously difficult, it is to be hoped that those charged with putting measures in place to tackle the disease in Cumbria take effective and well-planned action and that farming leaders are able to give a clear steer and support to their membership at a difficult time.