Ulster Unionist Councillor William McCandless has expressed his alarm after it was revealed the number of cattle found locally to have bovine TB jumped from 373 to 591 in the space of a year.
William McCandless, a Coleraine UUP Councillor, said: “Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) is a blight on our local farming community. The detection of a reactor on a farm has major and immediate consequences as the herd movements and cash flow is severely restricted. At a time of unprecedented pressures on our local farmers, being ‘closed down’ for long periods is the last thing that they need. “I am very concerned that information obtained by my Party has now revealed the true scale of the problem in the wider East Londonderry area. In the Coleraine Divisional Veterinary Office area, there were 416 cattle found with TB 2012, 373 in 2013, but then a significant jump to 591 in 2014. “Such a large increase is obviously a matter of concern but it further demonstrates the volatility of this disease.
It is essential that DARD comes up with a lasting solution to tackle the problem. “For many years now the Department and respective Ministers have been very good at calling for strategies and task forces, however until meaningful and decisive measures are taken then everything else is just a fig leaf. The main way to tackle this disease is to look at the source of the problem, and the scientific evidence all suggests we need to try to remove the TB reservoir in our local wildlife. The Department of Agriculture is looking at ways to do this, and have ran a number of important pilots, but I would now call on them to expedite their efforts. “Too many local farmers are being impacted by this disease so I would call on the Minister to now set it as a major priority for her Department.”