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Northern Ireland considering culling badgers
£4 million research programme to be commissioned

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has responded to recent criticism from the Ulster Farmer's Union (UFU) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) policy on badger culling as a means of countering the spread of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) by confirming that controlling the disease is a 'key priority'.

Ms O'Neill stated that “We are investing around £4million to commission a programme of TB and wildlife research and studies towards the ultimate aim of eradicating TB in cattle. We will use the evidence produced by this programme to inform a comprehensive approach that deals with all aspects of TB and will help to reduce the level of disease in cattle.”

“We already have a rigorous EU Commission approved eradication programme in place. We also need to build a sound evidence base to underpin further interventions in cattle and/or wildlife that could help to reduce TB as part of our eradication programme.” the Minister added.

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Dog fighting: RSPCA calls for tougher penalties

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says it investigated 511 calls about organised dog fighting last year. The figures were released ahead of a cross-party debate on the issue in Westminster on 29 June. The charity hopes to see MPs lending their support to tougher sentencing for this crime. In Northern Ireland, perpetrators face up to five years in prison, whereas in England and Wales the maximum is six months. 

News Shorts
Young animal welfare scientist recognised with UFAW award

Dr Rowena Packer has been awarded UFAW's Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year Award, in honour of her significant contributions to animal welfare.

Her final year project on meta-analysis looked at the potential to combine results from animal welfare studies. It has been called 'exceptional' for a scientist at this early stage in her career.

Her PhD also raised awareness of the links between extreme conformation and inherited diseases in dogs. She has been proactive in working with dog breeders and disseminating her research.