5 July 2002

TB transmission route revealed?

NEW evidence suggests badgers sometimes forage in cow troughs and buildings, but practical measures to prevent this will be difficult and expensive.

Researchers from Sussex University claim to have evidence of a potential route of TB infection from badgers to cattle. "Badgers were filmed foraging in cowsheds, feed stores and troughs, sometimes within 2m of cattle."

However, Devon vet Richard Sibley is sceptical about whether practical measures can prevent this. "Its virtually impossible to prevent badgers from entering farms. They can squeeze through gaps, climb over barriers and burrow underneath fences."

Even when a farms feed stores are secured, badgers will move elsewhere on the unit to find food. They are particularly desperate for food at this time of year, while they are rearing their young, says Mr Sibley.

"Whats needed is a demonstration farm funded by DEFRA showing practical measures for controlling badger access to farms and at what cost. For silage pits, it would involve enclosing the area within a building at considerable cost." &#42